David Haye secured the second victory of his comeback with a routine second-round knockout of Arnold Gjergjaj at London’s 02 Arena.
The heavyweight, fighting for the second time in five months after a three-and-a-half-year layoff with a career-threatening shoulder injury, provided another demonstration of his power one minute and 35 seconds into the second, securing the 26th stoppage of his career.
Kosovo-Albanian Gjergjaj had already twice hit the canvas and was a tiring figure appearing to want a way out when falling for a third time from another right hand at the end of a hurtful barrage. Victory clears Haye’s path to the fight he wants with veteran American Shannon Briggs later this year.
The conclusion came having also appeared close in the first. Gjergjaj was clearly hurt by a powerful right hook before Haye landed a straight right that knocked him down and looked to have secured the finish before he returned to his feet.
He fell again - with little resistance - after a routine jab at the start of the second, before being backed against the ropes, succumbing to Haye’s pressure, and ensuring referee Terry O’Connor waved the fight over when he unsteadily rose.
Gjergjaj’s limitations did little to demonstrate whether Haye retains the athleticism and reflexes that made him so dangerous at his peak, only that he remains capable of defeating overmatched opponents with flattering records.
He had never previously lost as a professional, but beyond facing his 6ft 5ins frame - Haye had spoken of his desire to fight a taller opponent - the financial benefits and Haye successfully completing another training camp injury-free, little was gained.
Against rangy opponents in the past, Haye has often been reluctant to close the space needed to land his biggest punches. Against Gjergjaj, his enthusiasm came from how little threat the 31-year-old posed and not any dramatic improvements.
He had spoken in the fight’s build-up of his belief he retained the speed that was once such an asset, dismissing Lennox Lewis’s widely-publicised concerns, but if he does - and in his last fight he did not seem to - there was little chance for him to prove it.
Gjergjaj lacked the skill-set, athleticism and ambition to trouble him, and even with Haye - at 16st the second heaviest of his career, though three pounds lighter than in January - far from reckless, the result was almost never in doubt.
As with January’s underwhelming first-round defeat of Mark de Mori, Haye again attracted a significant crowd approaching an estimated 16,000, perhaps his most impressive achievement since returning.
He is expected to next fight the 44-year-old Briggs, who in a farcically one-sided affair earlier stopped Argentina’s Emilio Ezequiel Zarate in less than a round.
Thereafter, having worked out the ring-rust remaining from his lay-off, he will hope to tempt IBF titlist Anthony Joshua, or WBA and WBO champion Tyson Fury, into the biggest fights this side of the Atlantic. His selection of a taller opponent ensured that is little secret.