Haye vs Klitschko: Deal making and the Axis of evil! Part 2

By - P.H. Burbridge - A few weeks ago I wrote an article entitled “Deal making and the Axis of evil!” and in it I went over some of the issues that initially kept this fight from being finalized. The problems started when David Haye and Adam Booth lost confidence in their ability to deliver a sold out 40,000 seat Stamford Bridge. Things quickly spun out of control with both sides pointing the finger at the other.. Well, to make a long story short Richard Schaefer and Shelly Finkel had to pull together both parties to finally get this deal done. So, now we’ve got a fight!

Here I’d like to focus on what this fight represents beyond the obvious fact that it’s between a respected champion and an exciting challenger.

The terms of this deal may change the way fight contracts are structured in the future because it redefines the standard rematch clause.

This deal is the first one that I’m aware of in which the champion contractually dictates who his challenger must fight as a condition of getting a title shot. It completely changes the traditional rematch clause dynamic. Think about it for a moment. In the world of the Klitschko’s if you’re the champion you will now have the ability to dictate who your opponent fights after he’s already beaten you in the rematch. If the Klitschko’s were NOT brothers do you think this aspect of the deal would be acceptable? NO! This is a bad precedence that we can’t afford for people to get comfortable with because it will open the door to questionable deal making in future matches. Pretty soon contracts will be structured in a manner that will ensure promotional interests are protected. Promoters will influence their champions to include contractually binding pre-conditions that allow for a stable mate to get the first crack at the ex-champ’s conqueror. Potentially a fighter’s ranking or standing won’t be the main determining factor in getting a particular match up. All he needs is the right relationship with the right promoter and all the details can be worked out in boxing’s familiar backroom manner. As a sport we’re represented by lowest trend line on the morality graph and this could potentially drop us off the chart all together.

A rematch clause is a rematch clause. If you’re the champion and you get beat then yes, you should be able to get a rematch if it was in the original contract. But, if you end up getting beat in the rematch then that’s it! Debt paid! Obligation met! None of this nonsense about fighting some other guy after you’ve beaten your man twice. That’s a whole other deal! The current champion should then be able to defend HIS title against either the mandatory challenger or an opponent of his choice. That’s just how we do it in professional boxing and we’ve been doing it that way for a long time. Too many bad things could result from this “new term”. Let’s not forget that we’re a sport full of hustlers. CREATIVE hustlers! If money’s at stake SOMEBODY will find a way to screw somebody else and that’s the bottom line!

My hope is that this is a one time deal designed by the Klitschko’s for David Haye only and not the new standard for fight contracts moving forward. Again, if the Klitschko’s were not brothers I seriously doubt this could even be proposed. In terms of what all this means to David Haye I think you can put a check mark in the “positive” column. That is if he truly means what he has said. If he’s as confident of beating both brothers as he says he is then all of this should play right into his hands. In a sense he’s getting everything he wanted. An opportunity to get 3/4th’s of the way to unifying the championship! An opportunity to prove his greatness by going through the two most dominant fighters in the division and become the new face of boxing.

Sure the odds are stacked against him. There’s not a whole lot of boxing insiders that think Haye has a real chance of even hearing the final bell against Wlad. I personally think this is an intriguing match up and probably the best fight the division can offer up at the time. I look forward to fireworks no matter how long it lasts and I applaud Haye’s desire to fight the best. No one can accuse him of taking the easy road.

And who knows at the end of this long dark tunnel he might emerge as the recognized and true heavyweight champion of the world.

He may turn out to be exactly what he has said he is.

Or by evenings end on June 20th any thought of a future fight with ANY Klitschko might be the furthest thing from David Haye’s reality!

(Please feel free to contact P.H. Burbridge via email at with any comments or feedback.)

Article posted on 10.04.2009

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