A quick piece for Little White Lies
Nell Frizzell on when boxing films become boxing matches
As any Warhol fan who has a can of tomato soup for lunch knows, life can often follow art. So, I ask you, where the hell is David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye going to get hold of a big old sack of rocks and an alcoholic brother-in-law before next Saturday?
For those of you who haven’t been keeping up to speed with the world of professional boxing, not to mention professional boxing film franchises, let me explain. Next week David Devon Haye, aka ‘The Haymaker’, a six foot, 15 stone heavyweight from Bermondsey, is going to attempt to fight a seven foot, 23 stone Russian World Boxing Association champion, Nikolay Valuev. To mention David and Goliath here would just be lazy, so let us instead say that this is basically like a badger trying to punch out a grizzly bear.
My friends, I give you Rocky IV made flesh.
Of course, I have been arguing for years that Stallone is a modern day Nostradamus. The man is patently a genius of almost transcendental proportions, so it’s hardly surprising that he can predict the future. I’m just surprised he’s kept it quiet for so long.
So, that’s the background. Now let’s see if the parallels between Rocky IV and Haye’s upcoming Nuremburg fight could fill fifteen rounds.
Round One – The Opponents
Like Stallone’s Italian Stallion, Haye is famed for his warmth, his good humour and his good looks. In a recent interview with the Observer, Haye joked that he had given up a lucrative modelling career for ‘a job where I can get brain damage in from of millions of people.’ As fans of Rocky will know, old Balboa has to overcome both the demons of injury and corporate modelling during the film series in order to fight Drago.
Now, David Haye may be big enough to scare the living shit out of most mortals, but the South London boxer will have to pull something extraordinary (I’m thinking maybe a blunderbuss) out of his gloves to fell his titanic opponent. Nikolay Valuev is said to eat three kilos of animal flesh a day, had hands the size of squash rackets and has size 18 feet. Similarly, in Rocky IV, Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren, was basically a Slavic killing machine. With a flat top that could break steel girders and biceps the size of new born babies, you really believed him when he said ‘I fight all my life and I never lose. Soon I fight Rocky Balboa, and the world will see his defeat.’
Round Two – The Training
The training montage of Rocky IV is, by anyone’s reckoning, a masterpiece. Whilst being followed by the KGB and haunted by memories of Apollo’s defeat, Rocky lifts rocks, runs up mountains, ploughs through snow and, in a move that I think we all could learn from, bench-presses a wooden cart full of loved ones in front of a roaring Siberian fire. David Haye, on the other hand, has made his sparring partner wear platform boots (in order to prepare for the pulverising blows that will rain down on to his head), watched videos of Godzilla and has said that he will go in to ‘solitude’ for just a day before the fight. Not the solitude of the Russian wilderness, either.
Valuev, of course, will be preparing with his new trainer, the diminutive Alexander Zimin. And may I just say here, right now, that I in no way am comparing the training regime of a 7 foot, 23 stone professional fighter with the drugs cheating, semi-robotic, laboratory schedule of Drago in Rocky IV. And if I have mistakenly given any impression to the contrary then please God, never let him find me.
Round Three – The Fight Itself
Now, I hate to throw around spoilers here, but it’s pretty hard to talk about Rocky IV without mentioning the small fact that Rocky’s fight with Drago basically ends the Cold War. Through humility, perseverance and combination punches to the head piece, Rocky teaches the Russian Politburo the importance of friendship.
Sadly, in the real world, next week’s fight between the Hayemaker and Nikolay Valuev will probably end in little more than the transfer of enormous funds and equally unpalatable wounds.
So, there we have it. Not fifteen rounds, perhaps, but pretty darned close. Now, I wonder when Judge Dredd is going to come true….