Haye vs. Klitschko: Will America Be Watching?

Wladimir Klitshko08.04.09 - By Michael Herron: Upon the announcement that former cruiserweight champion David Haye and heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko have agreed to terms, I produced an article titled David Haye: He Actually Can Save Boxing. The argument considered whether or not Haye, with his charisma and aggressive fighting style, could breathe new life into the heavyweight boxing scene.

Though boxing is as popular as ever in Europe with several heavyweight champions being from the former Soviet Union, the sport, as a result of a poorly received heavyweight division, suffers in the United States. American boxing fans are desperate for a new heavyweight champion and even though a David Haye victory would shock the world, what difference will it make if American’s aren’t watching?

American fans have proven to be a tuff crowd to please. Spoiled by a centuries worth of great fighters like Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, and Evander Holyfield, a legacy of heavyweight greatness has come to be expected. Though all of the mentioned fighters are from the United States, England’s Lennox Lewis proved that a foreign born champion can be just as dominant and respected as our homegrown heroes. Though it is debatable that Lewis ever became a fan favorite in America, what he did achieve was respect, popularity, and recognition as the true heavyweight champion of the world. David Haye is likewise from the U.K. and recent reports have indicated that he has reached out to Lewis in hopes of learning the secrets of bringing down a behemoth like Wladimir Klitschko and ultimately his brother Vitali.

So with a fight this big where is HBO or Showtime boxing? Where is the 24/7 documentary series; the huge billboards, radio announcements, commercials, toys and action figures? Of course I’m speaking in America, Europe is absolutely buzzing about the June 20th encounter. On the other side of the pond however, the only high profile fight the general U.S. audience is aware of is Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton, who ironically are also foreign born champions. The Pacquiao vs. Hatton match is due to receive the full media push; promotional tours, news coverage, magazine articles, television spots, and most importantly HBO’s 24/7 documentary series which has proven to be very effective with casual fans. The problem is that Hatton and Pacquiao have already been featured on 24/7 in their respective match-ups against Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Obviously the more publicity the better but isn’t Haye vs. Klitschko even more deserving of a documentary series? This is the fight that needs it the most, this is the type of heavyweight contest that Americans have been demanding to see, and this is the moment to reintroduce an improved Wladimir Klitschko and officially introduce “The Hayemaker” to an American audience.

Why 24/7 or a media equivalent? Floyd Mayweather Jr. proved that a cocky attitude, sharp tongue, and obnoxious behavior could be a ratings powerhouse. The 24/7 series that featured him and the Mayweather family are generally regarded as the more entertaining and engaging episodes. David Haye has shown that he is equally as cocky, arrogant, sharp tongued, and witty as Floyd. He is must see TV and the American audience is not tuned in. Also to the detriment of the U.S. boxing scene, the fight will take place in Germany which further decreases its relevancy to American fans. The biggest disadvantage is that it will be broadcast (if broadcast at all) at a time of day that most American’s are not watching boxing. An advantage is that the fan base in Europe is huge; but why not take a page out of Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzage, and the retired Lennox Lewis’ book and brings the show to the States? Las Vegas, Nevada and Madison Square Garden in New York are the Mecca and Medina of boxing after all!

So if this fight indeed falls under the U.S. radar who’s to blame? The media, promotional companies, networks? In actuality, it is the Klitschko’s themselves who set the date, time, location, and terms of this match. In regards to negotiations, bringing the fight to American audiences didn’t even seem to be a priority. A shame really as this could potentially be the most exciting fight either man has been involved in. Regardless of location however, the die hard fans of America will be watching and listening, and if we’re lucky we may hear quotes like this igniting the American public, “I’m taking this fight to save boxing,” says ‘The Hayemaker’. “I’m doing this for Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and all the other great, smaller heavyweights of the past. “I feel as though I’ve been sent by all the great heavyweights of yesteryear to clean up and save the heavyweight division. I’m a man on a mission to save boxing from this Eastern European invasion of Ivan Drago clones. The clean-up operation starts with Wladimir on June 20. I guarantee I’ll knock him out in spectacular fashion, I’m his worse nightmare.”

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Article posted on 07.04.2009

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