David Haye dealt Joe Fournier his first defeat Saturday night, but the former heavyweight and cruiserweight champion never appeared all that interested in knocking out his friend.
Haye won a unanimous decision in an eight-round heavyweight fight that resembled a light sparring session more than an official fight. Judges James O’Connor (79-72), Michael Ross (79-72) and Steve Weisfeld (80-71) all scored their monotonous match for Haye by big margins on the Evander Hoyfield-Vitor Belfort undercard at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
London’s Haye (29-4, 26 KOs) and Fournier (9-1, 9 KOs, 1 NC) have long been friends, but Fournier wanted to fight the former two-division champion because he wanted to prove his record against an absurdly low level of opposition wasn’t a fluke. The 40-year-old Haye had not fought in more than three years before Saturday night.
England’s Tony Bellew stopped Haye in each of his previous two fights – in March 2017 and May 2018. His fight with Fournier didn’t remotely resemble either of those two Bellew bouts.
The 38-year-old Fournier, a wealthy entrepreneur from London, had difficulty landing clean punches on even an aged, rusty Haye. An elusive Haye didn’t connect with many effective shots, either, but he dropped Fournier with a jab just before the first round ended.
Fournier and Haye hugged before the eighth and final round started. The action didn’t intensify during that final round, despite that Fournier clearly needed a highly unlikely knockout to win.
Fournier missed most of his telegraphed attempts again in the seventh round, when Haye easily avoided his punches. Haye landed occasional jabs during that round, but he didn’t throw many power punches at his opponent.
Fournier tried to use his jab and stayed out of Haye’s punching range in the fifth round. Haye backed up Fournier with a jab with les than 40 seconds to go in the fifth round.
Haye and Fournier spent some of the fourth round wrestling for position in clinches. Neither fighter landed many punches in that round.
Fournier pressured Haye at the start of the third round, though he didn’t connect with any clean punches. Haye landed a short right hand about 30 seconds into the third round.
Fournier did his best to avoid Haye’s jab during the second round after Haye dropped him with a jab toward the end of the opening round. There wasn’t much action in that second two-minute period.
Fournier was aggressive at the start of the bout, but he couldn’t land an effective punch on Haye. Just before the first round ended, however, Fournier was off balance and walked into a stiff jab that sent him to the canvas.
Fournier used both gloves to prevent from falling to the seat of his trunks, thus it counted as a knockdown. Fournier answered Young’s count quickly and the round concluded before Haye could hit him again.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.