As Arreola And Haye Prepare To Challenge The Klitschkos, Who Has The Better Chance Of Victory?

David Hayeby James Slater - Neither match-up is set in stone as of yet, but the frontrunners to next face the two Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, appear to be young contenders Chris "The Nightmare" Arreola and David "The Hayemaker" Haye. Looking at taking over the heavyweight division in 2009, both the Riverside, Californian and the Cyprus-based Londoner are anxious for their shot. Former cruiserweight king Haye has his sites on a June showdown with elder brother and WBC champion Vitali, while unbeaten Arreola is looking ahead to a May clash with IBF and WBO boss Wladimir. Supposing both fights do come off (as we hope they do, in the name of real excitement) who will have the better chance of winning - Brit Haye or Mexican/American Arreola?

Most people agree Haye has the better, tougher-chinned brother to try taking out with his bombs. Though older at age 37 - Wladimir is a peaking 32, of course - Vitali is recognised as a harder, more confident fighter than his sibling, and a warrior who is also willing to take risks in the ring in an effort to stamp his authority on the bout. Wladimir, though also a formidable big man, is terribly reluctant to venture from his caution-at-all-times ring approach. Also, Vitali has only ever been beaten by injuries (on cuts against Lennox Lewis and a shoulder problem Vs. Chris Byrd) - never has "Dr. Iron Fist" been knocked flat. This is not the case with "The Steel Hammer," as he has been smashed by both Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster. As such, it does seem Arreola has a slightly better shot at winning than does Haye.

This is not because Arreola is a superior fighter to Haye - the debate goes on as to who of the two contenders is more deserving of a title shot - it is just that Wladimir appears more vulnerable than does the fortress that is the stiff punching, rock-chinned Vitali. Indeed, some experts and fans have said that if Haye had gotten his first choice of a fight with Wladimir, he would have a better than average chance of winning. Now, however, it looks like "The Nightmare" will be going in with the younger brother, and it will be he who will be attempting to exploit Wladimir's perceived weaknesses such as his shaky chin and his tendency to panic when jumped on and roughed up.

It does seem fair to say Haye has the tougher assignment, but Arreola too, faces the fight of his life. This writer, though, does feel Arreola has a legitimate chance of a win. Already being written off by practically all the posters on this website, the 27-year-old has worried fans with his increased weight in recent fights. Rest assured, Arreola will be in shape for this fight - he simply has to be. If he comes out fast and, in the words of his trainer Henry Ramirez, "closes the distance and takes Wladimir out of his comfort zone," he has a chance of catching a shocked champion and forcing a stoppage. It will be a huge upset, yes, but Wladimir has suffered this fate before. A lot may depend on how much return punishment Arreola is willing/capable of taking, but I have a hunch (and admittedly it's nothing more than a hunch) that Arreola will show us how tough he is and how prepared to walk through fire he is to win the big one. In the final analysis, there will be no in between - either Arreola will win in spectacular fashion, or he will himself be taken out in spectacular fashion. This fight is NOT going the distance!

The same can almost certainly be said of the Klitschko-Haye fight. Haye, as is his way, will take the fight right to Vitali, as he attempts to land the stunning power he carries in both hands. But in doing so he will be taking a helluva risk; an even bigger one than Arreola will be undertaking against Wladimir. Meeting the 28-year-old in mid-ring in June will be a 6'8" monster with a chin, an attitude and a self belief capable of taking all that comes his way (unless, of course, age and injury serve to catch up with the 37-year-old). There is only a slim chance Vitali will crumble under even the flushest of bombs, whereas in Arreola's case, if he lands flush - and there is a good chance he will - the less-than-sturdy-chinned 32-year-old may lose heart.

Haye will give it his best, and he will leave nothing to chance in training, but against as physically and mentally strong a giant as Vitali it will not be enough. If Arreola gives the same amount of effort in his crack at world glory, however, it just might be.

Article posted on 02.01.2009

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