News | Sport | 1 year ago

Mark de Mori is under no illusions about the gravity of his upcoming fight with David Haye.

"I think he sees me as a stepping stone and he’s already looking down the line, whereas for me this is everything," the Australian heavyweight says.

De Mori is a knockout merchant, with 25 of his 29 career victories coming via KO, but he recognises that the former WBA champion represents his biggest fight to date.

He does have one piece of advice for us, though: "Don't blink!"

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At the age of 33, Perth-born De Mori has taken a roundabout route to land himself a fight of this stature.

He has trained in the camps of Don King and Sergio Martinez, but credits a lot of his development to watching YouTube clips of his favourite boxers, name-checking Floyd Mayweather and James Toney.

"I found coaches weren’t really teaching me technique; it was just the same old thing of stamina work," he says.

"So I found my favourite fighters on YouTube and just became obsessed with studying them and watching their tapes and collecting DVDs of their careers - that’s when I started to improve a lot because I was actually learning and not just the same old stamina routine in the gym.

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"It’s easy for coaches to go ‘put your hands up’ or ‘throw more punches’, but when you’re getting your arse kicked it doesn’t help that much."

Standing at 6ft 2in, he is noticeably shorter than some of the biggest names in heavyweight boxing and this has forced De Mori to work on other ways to see off his opponents.

On top of that, he has suffered from asthma since childhood, although he is keen to ensure he doesn't use that as an excuse.

"I’ve fought many times injured, or sometimes everything’s perfect and then the day before you get an asthma attack and you can’t tell anyone because you don’t want your opponent knowing," he explains.

"I’ve learned that you just have to get through it somehow, whether it’s perfect or not. Traveling around and not having a coach a lot of the time, you get the confidence that whatever goes wrong you’ll find a way to win."

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De Mori doesn't have the luxury of a reach comparable to that of Tyson Fury or Wladimir Klitschko, but he's not even sure he'd want to fight like that if he had the chance.

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The fighter is the first to admit that he was attracted to boxing by the likes of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, and that he doesn't find the heavyweight division as exciting these days.

"I grew up watching Mike Tyson and to me it’s like a different sport, the way he fought," he admits.

"If I’d never seen boxing and I watched [Fury v Klitschko], then I wouldn’t become a fan.

"I think it was 10 rounds of a lot of strategy and there wasn’t a lot of action until the last two, so I would get bored myself after a few rounds of that and need to start throwing some bombs."

That said, he's more than happy to see Fury become a world champion, and has a lot of time for the Mancunian's "outspoken" nature.

Fury himself has twice been lined up to fight Haye, only for his compatriot to twice pull out through injury, and has ruled out a third attempt to get the bout off the ground.

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And De Mori doesn't think the 27-year-old is posturing, saying: "I genuinely think he’s so p*ssed off with the pull-outs through injury that he thinks ‘that’s that’."

"He’s got a potential Klitschko rematch, he could fight [Deontay] Wilder in America, there are so many big fights that he doesn’t need David Haye like he did before. So fair enough."

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So, about that "don't blink" comment - what does De Mori think we should expect when he takes on Haye at the O2 Arena in January?

"We’re both knockout fighters and we’re both there to knock each other out," he says. Simple as that.

"For me, that’s what gets people interested in boxing. Not just hardcore boxing fans but also the casual sports fan who just flicks on the TV.

"My main goal is I’d rather leave boxing knowing I had amazing fights where I put everything on the line, rather than just jabbing my way to victory and putting people to sleep in the stands."

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He appreciates that he's been given a "big opportunity" by his opponent, and hopes the difference in mentality can help him cause a shock.

"It’s impossible for him to want it as much as me when he’s already talking about his next fight, about Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury and those kind of guys," he says.

"It’s the biggest fight of my life, but for him it’s just another fight."

David Haye takes on Mark de Mori at The O2 on January 16. For tickets visit axs.com. #HayemakerIsBack

Photo credit: Warren King Photography

Read more about:

Boxing, David Haye, Mark De Mori

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