David Haye said that he believes Deontay Wilder is ‘the hardest punching heavyweight ever’ after sparring with him in 2013.
At the time, Britain’s former world champion was using America’s future WBC king to prepare for his later-cancelled fight with Tyson Fury.
Wilder was in camp alongside Mariusz Wach, Richard Towers and hot Croatian prospect Filip Hrgovic – who is now a top contender.
Footage later emerged of Wilder sparring Hrgovic, while brief clips came out which appeared to make Haye look good in the ring with Wilder.
However, the Brit has openly admitted he had a tough time sparring his US foe.
Haye told BT Sport prior to Wilder’s rematch with Fury last year: “I truly think he’s the hardest punching heavyweight ever.
“It sounds like an exaggeration.
“I got hit by Wilder in sparring – and I’ve been hit by Wladimir Klitschko on the chin with 10oz gloves – there was more effect from Wilder hitting me on the top of the head with 18oz gloves with me wearing a headguard.
“It wasn’t even clean, it was glancing, but I felt that more. I remember thinking after the first time I sparred him, ‘This guy’s going to do something.’
“He was wild, all over the place but the power.
“One thing also no-one really mentions is Deontay Wilder’s punch resistance.
“He can take a shot. I was giving him some digs; I’ve buzzed him a bit and he’s been back wanting more.
“Not only is it a good chin, his recovery power is great, most people you hit them with one shot their legs go a little bit and they’re not quite the same. He’s straight back on it.
“I remember thinking he can punch and he can take a shot so once he gets his technique up to scratch, which it is now, I knew from then this kid was going to be something very, very special.”
In the end, Haye’s fight with Fury was postponed after Haye was cut in sparring by a stray elbow from Hrgovic. The fight was later cancelled when he suffered a more serious shoulder injury.