David Haye's win over Nikolai Valuev to land the WBA heavyweight world title is the start of a new era for the top weight division, according to Oscar de la Hoya. The Briton beat the 7ft Russian Nikolai Valuev by majority decision in Germany at the weekend to join Evander Holyfield as the only ex-cruiserweight world champion to claim a heavyweight title.
The achievement was music to the ears of 10-times former world champion De la Hoya, whose Golden Boy Promotions company represents the Londoner in the United States. "We're very proud of David and what he accomplished on Saturday night. The odds were stacked against him, but he kept his focus, stuck to his game plan and put that title belt around his waist," he said. "This is a new era for the heavyweight division and I can't wait to see what mountains David will climb next."
While Haye plans a homecoming at London's Wembley Stadium next year, Golden Boy are keen to get the marketable 29-year-old across the Atlantic to give American audiences a charismatic alternative to the IBF/WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko and older brother Vitali, the WBC belt-holder "David looked tremendous during his 12-round battle with Valuev," Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said.
"We are going to do everything we can to get David the big fights so he can unify the heavyweight division and put it back on the boxing map." Haye could earn a share of US$120 million (Dh440.7m) by fighting one of the Klitschko brothers in the US, according to American promoter Schaefer. While there is already talk of a fight with one of the Klitschkos, Schaefer says the big bucks could be in the US.
"He could be massive. If he comes and fights in the United States against one of the Klitschkos, I have no doubt that the total global receipts could be close to $120m for one fight," he said. "I have a feeling, given the current landscape of the heavyweight division, that he will clean it up and become the undisputed heavyweight champion." Adam Booth, Haye's trainer, revealed that discussions with Wembley Stadium are already under way following his 12-round, majority-points victory over 7ft 2ins Valuev.
"Wembley have already been on to me," said Booth. * PA Sport