David Haye bets on himself, but boxing loses out in fiasco

British boxing is facing a growing clamour for an inquiry into the weekend's WBA Heavyweight championship fight in Manchester in which David Haye easily defended his title against a non-existent challenge from Audley Harrison.

Following the events which shamed the sport, any inquiry would centre on three matters - the suitability of Harrison as a world title challenger, his utter failure to make a contest of it, and the champion's claims that he bet on himself to win in round three, which he duly did after a 70-second beating of an opponent who threw exactly one connecting punch in the whole fight.

Though governing body the British Boxing Board of Control has no specific rule against fighters betting on themselves to win, Haye admitted that he and family members had placed bets on him winning in the third round.

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The amounts won were not stated, but are unlikely to have been very great as the bookmakers, perhaps significantly, have not complained.

Two of the biggest names in the sport, promoters Frank Warren and Frank Maloney, voiced their concerns after the shockingly poor bout which saw both men roundly booed and warned by the referee for their failure to start fighting in the first two rounds.

Warren spoke out after hearing Haye's assertion that he and his family bet on the champion to win in round three - possibly explaining why he, too, hardly threw a punch in the first two rounds.

Warren believes fighters who are also promoters, as Haye was, should not bet on the round in which they think they will win. He said: "For a fighter promoting it who is in the ring I think it is unacceptable.

"It just shouldn't be allowed to happen, It's not like they are not getting a fortune to fight in the first place. I don't think it looks good for the game or David Haye if he has had a bet."

Maloney, who managed Lennox Lewis to his world title, disagreed on that point - "Sportsmen bet on themselves, I don't think there's anything to stop them" - but questioned why Harrison got a shot at the title at the age of 39.

He described it as the "worst heavyweight title fight I've ever seen" and said that Harrison's purse should be withheld.

Maloney added: "I never changed my views that Haye would win within three rounds. I don't think Harrison should have been allowed to fight.

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"The British public got what they demanded. They have only got themselves to blame."

The blame for the fiasco lies fairly and squarely in the confused space between the ears of Audley Harrison, who was three stones heavier, taller and had a longer reach but never brought his physical advantages to bear.

He said: "I'm disappointed. I had a great training camp.I went in there feeling great and the strategy was all about taking David Haye into the late rounds.

"All credit to him, he caught me with a good shot. I beat the count but the referee stopped the fight. I am just disappointed I didn't get the chance to show my game plan.

"With the crowd booing, my game plan was working because obviously David wasn't charging in, but he pulled out the finish and you have to give him credit. I am not going to sit here and make excuses. It just wasn't to be my moment."

Harrison said there would now be a time for "reflection" on his future, but he is surely finished in the big time.

"The fact was that he wouldn't look at me when I got into the ring," said Haye. "He was looking everywhere else but at me. He wouldn't come out and engage."

Haye's reward will be a contest against either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko, who hold the other main belts between them, though Haye vowed that he would not take a pay cut for the sake of securing his reputation before his much-promised retirement at the end of 2011.

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"I am the main man, there's no one else for them to fight," said Haye. "We'll make it happen next year before I retire. They are used to people taking a little bit less to fight them. Why should I? I'm the only credible opponent."