David Haye vs. Vitali Klitschko – Some early thoughts

By Jim Dorney: 1.The preparation – Vitali Klitschko typically comes into fights at around 250lbs, which is pretty trim in supporting his 6’8 frame. Haye last out weighed 215lbs, and has previously fought at heavyweight at 217lbs (vs. Tomasz Bonin in 2007 & 206lbs vs. Garry Delaney in 2005. It’s clear that Haye is the smaller man physically, but at 6’3 & broad-shouldered at that, he’s not a small heavyweight..

Previously he’s relied on his power and speed, which has best been served by coming in light, but my guess is that against VK he’ll come in more around the 225 mark to allow for better punch resistance & more power. Another fight at Heavyweight in the interim will allow high body to accommodate the extra weight. Critically, despite the 5-inch difference in height, there’s only 2 inches (to Klitschko’s advantage) in reach.

In addition, there is Lennox Lewis’ involvement in Haye’s camp. Reportedly Lewis is serving as a sparring partner, but I find it hard to believe that the great man won’t be imparting some tactical & strategic advice based on his own encounter with Klitschko. Lewis possesses an immense boxing brain & Haye will be best advised to take full advantage of its resources.

2.The opponent - Klitschko’s performance last out vs. Peter impressed me, but I can’t help thinking I was more amazed by Peter’s absolute shambles of an effort than any improvements Klitschko might have made in his lay-off. Physically the big man looked good. He threw an array of accurate & well-timed punches with good hand speed from an awkward upright stance, which at 6’8 is always going to be tough to get through – But I’m not convinced that he’s added anything to his arsenal. Whether he needs to remains to be seen.

I suspect that Klitschko feels that he doesn’t need to make any style changes for Haye, and he may well be right in that assessment. Klitschko has the heritage at Heavyweight, and no one has managed to fathom a proper way through his style, nor expose any weakness in his chin. Haye is the one that needs to come up with a way to impose himself on Klitschko rather than the other way around.

Lennox Lewis proved that Klitschko could be hit but also that he could take a punch. Most of Klitschko’s stoppages are by accumulation as opposed to single knockout shots, but this is perhaps due to the high connect percentage ‘Dr Ironfist’ manages.

Klitschko’s main worry from my point of view will be injuries, which might make the fight a moot point. However, presuming he turns up fit & his body lasts out the rounds, Haye has it all to do.

3.The strategy - It’s hard for me to see from the off what Haye’s approach & keys to victory are going to be. Against Wladimir Klitschko his game plan would be more obvious in trying to expose the alleged china chin, but VK has shown no such weakness & a determination & self-belief that his younger sibling has occasionally lacked.

Therefore, if getting a KO is unlikely, what does Haye do? Try & outbox Vitali? Perhaps this is his only option, and not going for the huge shots all the time might allow for extra mobility that he’ll badly need to execute this game plan. David might have such confidence in his punching power that he will believe that Klitschko will fall at his feet, but one can’t help but think that would be foolhardy.

4.The task & the attitude – As a boxing fan you have to commend Haye’s willingness to take on the best & confidence in his abilities, plus giving the fans the best fights he can. The reason he’s become such a big name in comparably a short space of time other than his obvious ability is his willingness to go after the best fighters he can.

He may well lose any fight, which he himself acknowledges, but he’ll give his all & go out on his shield. That’s a great ethos & becoming increasingly rare.

5.Interim fights – Haye & Klitschko are set to do battle in June of this year. Before then, Klitschko has a March date with Juan Carlos Gomez (WBC mandatory). Whilst Gomez is an excellent fighter conventional wisdom is that Klitschko will be victorious due to his power & conversely, Gomez’s chin. That said, Haye’s weaknesses are similar, but he has a far bigger punch than Gomez.

Haye is yet to announce any prior fights to Klitschko the elder. In my opinion he’d be well advised to get some more rounds in against solid Heavyweight opposition.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Article posted on 05.01.2009

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