This Saturday, we will see the biggest challenge in some time to the throne of heavyweight champion (IBO/IBF/WBO), Wladimir Klitschko, 55-3, 49 KO’s. The opponent, WBA heavyweight champion, David “Hayemaker” Haye, 25-1, 23 KO’s, serves as the first opponent in ages to bring speed, power, and the magic ingredient to make this so intriguing: charisma. He has that “it” factor, and he is currently the best trash talker in boxing. This trash talking has not been well received by either of the Klitschko brothers.
Recently, HBO put these two fighters across from each other, and Haye continued to get under the skin of the recognized champion. Wlad cannot hide his anger, and Haye just smiled in his face, hoping to prevent him from sticking to the game plan. “You gonna fight this time,” was one of the comments thrown at Wlad, and his jab, jab, jab, grab style that many contend he has, and he does to a certain degree, is something that Haye also mentioned.
Haye looks at this as a fight. Wlad looks at it like a boxing match, a sport…both Klitschkos go into fights as sporting exhibitions. They are hard to beat, fight tall, and bring a lot of confidence but they both have suffered from the lackluster heavyweight division. HBO’s numbers have been so low for Klitschko fights that they have elected not to cover the majority of the recent ones, but this one is different. There is an element of uncertainty here. Wlad has been knocked out before by lesser men. Can Haye find the mark?
Wlad has been undefeated since 2004, when he lost to Lamon Brewster via fifth round TKO. He was winning the fight, knocked Brewster down, but ran out of gas. He would claim that he was drugged later, but most think that his anxiety got the best of him. He hit Brewster with everything but the ring post and he kept coming and putting pressure on him. He didn’t allow Wlad to maintain range and set the pace. He made Wlad work, which is a key in beating him.
Since 2004, Wlad has been on a tear. He defeated an undefeated and motivated Sam Peter by decision in 2005, won the IBF title in 2006 with a stoppage of Chris Byrd, the long time reigning champion, knocked out top contender Calvin Brock, avenged his loss to Brewster by knockout, captured the WBO title from Sultan Ibragimov, knocked out top contender Tony Thompson, pummeled former champion Hasim Rahman, beat down contender Eddie Chambers, and recently beat Sam Peter by stoppage in a rematch. The opposition is the best the division has to offer, but none of these men bring to the table what Haye does.
Haye entered the division in 2008, choosing Monte Barrett, a respected ring veteran, as his first opponent. Haye would stop Barrett in five rounds. In his very next fight, he took on the WBA Champion at the time, Nikolay Valuev, a fighter that had won 51 out of 52 fights and is incredibly underrated. Haye used his mobility to confuse the giant and rocked him late to win a majority decision and win the title. He would defend against former 2-Time Champion, the gritty John Ruiz, and would beat him into submission in 9 rounds. In his last fight, he easily stopped Audley Harrison in three rounds. The bouts with Valuev and Ruiz are decent preparation for the much bigger challenge in Wlad, but he is as ready as anyone else.
It could be argued that if you put both of their records together, Valuev is the best opponent that either has beaten. Haye’s experience in those 12 rounds will help him here.
This heavyweight fight has everything that you would want in a fight. We have an established champion, facing the number one true contender that will either bring Wlad to the next level or knock him out and a star will be born.
A lot of people are rooting for Haye, hoping that the division will not remain this dark and boring place. It is not the Klitschkos’ fault that they are so dominant and that the division is so lacking. There is little fun in watching a fight when the opposition has no chance to win. Eddie Chambers, as good as he is, didn’t have the right style or punching power to concern Wlad, Sam Peter as powerful as he is, didn’t have the finesse or defense, and the list goes on and on. These are incomplete fighters and easy prey for a complete fighter like Wlad. He would have to really make an error to find himself without a title against his recent opposition.
The question about Haye is his chin. The worst thing you can have going against you in a Klitschko fight is a fragile chin. This is the contention of those that are picking Wlad to easily win. Haye can’t take the punch.
The point of reference is a fight that took place in 2004, when cruiserweight Haye was stopped in 5 by Carl Thompson, a fighter that had 38 fights. At the time, Haye had only had 10 fights under his belt and was really untested. He found an opponent that wouldn’t crumble easily and the resistance led to his first defeat, but he has been undefeated since. He has, however, been dropped. Jean Marc Mormeck and Monte Barrett both scored knockdowns against Haye. Haye keeps his left hand very low at times, and Wlad has the best right in the game. Those two things could equal big trouble for Haye.
Wlad has two criticisms going into this that could come into play. One, a fragile psyche. When he faces somebody that presses him and doesn’t go away easily, he gets frazzled and tires easily. He may get tired down the stretch and become a big target for Haye. The second allegation is that Wlad doesn’t have a great chin. He has been dropped by Sam Peter, DaVarryl Williamson, Corrie Sanders, and Lamon Brewster, but the point should also be made that everyone that has put Wlad down has been an incredible puncher. Anyone that gets hit by these punchers clean would be on their back. So, I don’t agree with the second part of this. His fatigue and propensity to panic may come into play.
This Saturday, we will have the pleasure of watching the most important heavyweight fight in years, with Wladimir finally taking on an opponent that isn’t terrified, that isn’t coming for a paycheck, and has all the tools to succeed. Wlad has to be the favorite, but he is facing a monster puncher with speed and timing. Both fighters are looking for a knockout and one of them will get it. Get ready boxing fans…we are in for a treat!