The Nightmare Diary: Klitschko’s lesser of two evils!

By - P.H. Burbridge - The fight game is full of people creating buzz and perpetrating myths. To be honest that’s how many fighters develop their name or their “brand” if you will. Everything is about PR and if you spend too much time listening to it you might just overlook the obvious truth right before your eyes. There are many who labor under the illusion that “their guy” will win and continue to win because he has the “superior” technique or physique.. If boxing history has taught us anything it’s that technique and physiques are NOT always the determining factors in these matters. If it were then Rocky Marciano wouldn’t have retired undefeated and Larry Holmes would never have won the heavyweight championship. There are a lot of factors that come into play in determining the outcome of a fight. There’s a lot of danger out there and the fighter whose team does the better job of accurately assessing those dangers usually ends up ahead. It’s tricky business measuring the degree of each risk.

By not signing the fight with Chris Arreola and focusing his attention on David Haye, Wladimir Klitschko just confirmed an important piece of information for this writer. With that action Team Klitschko just informed me that they think Chris Arreola is the more difficult and dangerous opponent. That’s how the business of boxing works. Forget about rankings. Forget about the match ups hardcore fight fans really want to see. It’s still all about “Pay ME!” For all their PhD’s and their high handed aspirations the Klitsckho brothers are as transparent as a couple of street hustlers.

Nothing new in professional boxing.

There could be no other explanation for taking the Haye option rather than Arreola. Does anyone really believe that the Haye fight would really yield Wladimir more money than a fight at the Staple Center full to the rafters with Mexican-American fans telecast on HBO PPV?? Of course, not! As far as I’m concerned they’re right. They are RIGHT! A fight with Arreola IS the more dangerous fight. Those guys are anything but stupid. Let’s be frank here and look at things from their perspective.

David Haye and Chris Arreola both represent solid paydays for Wladimir Klitschko so how do you ensure you get both? You take the weaker one first! That’s Haye. Regardless of all the hype and tasteless nonsense Haye spews out in public the bottom line is that he was king of a division that has historically been the worst in boxing. The cruiserweight division has yet to evolve and we still haven’t seen any great rivalries materialize because there have been so few good fighters. In order to have great rivalries that capture the publics imagination you have to have two dynamic and intriguing fighters unveiling their hearts and souls in the ring. We’ll, we haven’t gotten that in the cruisers and we certainly didn’t get it during the David Haye era. If Evander Holyfield had stayed and dominated the division then you might be able to make the argument that at least one great fighter lived there but he still would have needed a Joe Frazier to become great. People have gone overboard in comparing Haye’s quest with Holyfield’s. For one, Evander was NOT getting knocked down and hurt at cruiserweight. Haye was. It was clear to anyone that Holyfield had a heavyweight chin not to mention enough heart for two men. Haye’s been hurt not just once but a few times by fighters who attempted and failed in their own bids in to the heavyweight division. Their heavyweight experiences “convinced” them that they might have a little longer shelf life if they kept it under 200 lbs. In a recent article in Ring Magazine a writer made several comparisons between David Haye and Muhammad Ali implying that Haye is the fastest heavyweight since a prime 1960’s Ali! Haye IS an interesting prospect in the division BUT stop right there! Under NO circumstances is it even conceivable to compare Haye in anyway shape or form to the GREATEST. In fact, I hated even writing that just now. Let’s strip away the BS shall we. In his last fight against a faded thirty-seven year old Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett (34-7, 20 Ko’s) his plan was to box from a distance and counter allowing Monte to come to him so he could pick him apart and take him a little later in the fight. It was a good plan. It’s your first high profile heavyweight fight and everyone’s watching so stay in control. Right? NO!! Once Haye got tagged all that planning went out the window and he decided to “put on a show” by trading. Well, that’s bad news folks. Foolish and telling. His inability to stick to the game plan against an inconsistent and some would argue mediocre fighter at best underlines his deficient ring intelligence. He just confirmed for us that he’s no thinker in the ring. When you change your course of action in an instant based on a single series of blows then you completely undermine the entire fight plan and create a platform for failure. PERIOD! If that’s what trainer, Adam Booth and the rest of Haye’s people are willing to accept from him then we can all sit back and wave as we watch Haye’s elevator plummet to the basement floor. That’s not a prediction that’s a guarantee. He must maintain a professional demeanor in the ring at all times. He was hurt by that 5th round shot Barrett landed and if Monte hadn’t hit him while he was down then he might have gotten lucky. Haye didn’t look all that confident when he got up and then decided to go back down to a knee. Well, Monte Barrett simply doesn’t get lucky and his foul gave Haye the time that he needed to recover. I’m sure Monte regrets that.

But, still all in all David Haye manufactured that event and he and his team seem to laugh it off after the fight. Keep laughing. Wladimir and Vitali were laughing as well!

Maybe you could get away with that at cruiserweight where the guys are more or less your size and strength but against guys who out weight you by 30-40 lbs and are clearly stronger than you are is a recipe for disaster. This all brings back into focus the subject that all Haye fans hate to discuss and that’s his chin. It’s his curse. If he boxed and stayed upright for the duration of the fight then he could have avoided a lot of this criticism but you can’t ignore obvious signs. The chin is number 1 and number 2 are all the wide shots he throws from the outside. The jumping in and out with his hands down make him perfect for Wladimir not to mention perfect for Arreola. Haye’s inside game is virtually non-existent and when he’s in close he literally holds 90 % of the time. A lot of holding and hitting behind the head. I’ve searched and searched through as many available fights as I could locate on him for definitive proof that he actually has a body attack and can count the number of body shots that he’s thrown on one hand. When he jabs he brings his left hand back down around his chest and sometimes he even brings it back down around his waist. The old timers would call this being a “cutey pie”. When future opponents see that look from him the smart ones will let him get comfortable doing it early allowing him to gain a sense of security and belief that they can’t do anything about it. Setting a trap. You do it while you’re waiting for your opponent to come off his toes and the second he does you fire the right hand. Boxing 101. These are all deeply ingrained flaws in Haye’s fight make up. You’re not going to fix it overnight and it’s not correctable in the time frame leading into a summer fight with Wladimir.

I’m sure Wladimir and his team have also identified the little discussed stamina issues that also plague Haye. I found that more than evident in reviewing his fights. For a guy who looks like he should be on the cover of “Fitness” magazine every month he sure looks gassed early in fights. I don’t think having a 6’ 6 ½ ” 245 lb guy leaning on you is going to put more oxygen in your lungs especially around the 9th round. I’m not sure if its nerves or maybe he’s carrying just a little too much muscle mass for his frame. After all he’s not a big man despite his 6’ 3” height. In order to gain size and strength he would likely turn to weight lifting. The problem for Haye is that there’s a danger and limit to how much of this he can reasonably incorporate into his training regimen. He needs the size and strength to compete with his larger foes but in doing so he also runs the risk of taking away from his one clear advantage, his speed.

From a business perspective, Wladimir and his team are doing the right thing.

So, that’s why Haye goes first and Arreola’s goes second.

In terms of Arreola, he has the size and more importantly the power to move and hurt Wladimir. I don’t think there are many guys who TRULY want to fight Arreola including Wladimir. Sure, there are a number of fighters out there who “say” they want to fight Chris but if he were ranked #17 rather than #2 you can bet a lot of those same guys would lose his number damn quick. That left hook Arreola landed against Travis Walker to end their fight would have hurt ANYONE in the division including the Klitschko Brothers. Arreola doesn’t have to land a ton of punches to get the win. He just needs a few. He has showed us that even his grazing shots hurt his opponent’s ala Big George. He’s extremely heavy handed and combine that with the fluidity of his punching style and it translates into a bigger challenge for Wladimir. Arreola DOES have a body attack and Klitschko’s body remains untested which is another interesting dynamic of this fight. Arreola is also capable of turning this into an ugly unpleasant brawl and we all know that those are not the best conditions for Wladimir to be successful. Wladimir needs control and Arreola’s style will create chaos. The type of chaos Emmanuel Steward has worked very hard with Wladimir to avoid in recent years.

Plus, Wladimir like Haye doesn’t exactly have a chin destined for Mount Rushmore which means Arreola has a legitimate shot.

The Klitschko’s already know all of this so it goes right back their business plan. Put that Haye money in your pocket first before risking it against Arreola.

The fact that Wladimir is making Arreola wait may even back fire on him. Anyone who’s seen this kid fight can tell you all he needs is better conditioning and that takes time. Well, now he has that time and because of it I like his chances even more.

This whole situation has clearly pissed Arreola and his team off and I don’t think you want to give this guy a reason to believe that you’ve “wronged” him because it will have a motivating effect.

And a motivated Chris Arreola is truly a NIGHTMARE!

Article posted on 26.01.2009

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