David Haye vs Wladimir Klitschko – The Key Factors

Wladimir KlitschkoBy Jim Dorney: With the 20th June date for this highly anticipated heavyweight match-up between David Haye & Wladimir Klitschko quickly approaching; I’ve been trying to consider what will be the key factors in determining how the fight will play out.

I’ll outline then below & finish with my own (tentative) prediction of the result.

Boxing ability - Klitschko the younger is the more fluid of the two big brothers – When he’s on song he has rhythm, class & puts punches in bunches together with what appears to be consummate ease. What’s frustrating about Wladimir is that he has such fluency yet seems to choose not to use it often..

Haye fights like a predator, stalking his man, and not caring particularly about holding the centre of the ring as long as he gets the opportunities he’s looking for to unload to body & head. Stylistically he’s deceptive – he can appear more carefree than he actually is, as his balance & spatial awareness are top-class. This said, the edge here (just) goes to an on-song Klitschko – But will the one who arrives on fight night be on-song & willing to let it all hang out? Only time will tell.

Advantage - Klitschko


For his size, Wladimir is by no means slow of both hand & foot, but Haye’s speed for a big man is exceptional. The Londoner matches his speed with his arrogance, typically leaving his left recklessly low, which I suspect he won’t do against Klitschko, at least not to begin with, out of respect for the big man’s power & ability.

That said, Haye carried his left dangerously low against Jean-Marc Mormeck all night, which could have proved his undoing had Mormeck managed to find his chin cleanly more often.

Advantage - Haye


Both guys boast a great amateur heritage – Klitschko arguably slightly more so with his 1996 Olympic gold medal. Haye only just came short in the amateur world championships against the Cuban Odlanier Solis, who himself is making very good progress as a pro – Perhaps some day the paths of one or both of the two subjects of this article may clash with Solis in the pro ring? Here’s hoping so!

In terms of professional experience Klitschko has to win out from an objective point of view. He has oodles of experience of fighting top-class heavyweights, of defending world titles & of delivering the goods under pressure. Has Haye has impressed me greatly in his pro career so far however. Going to Mormeck’s back yard against a partisan French crowd & coming back from being on the canvas (partially caused by a slip, mind) to win by devastating stoppage takes some balls.

Advantage - Klitschko

Punching power

Both of these guys can really crack – Of that there is no doubt, and both their records attest to it. Haye’s critics question whether his undoubted power at 200lbs will effectively translate across to heavyweight. To be fair to David, both his heavyweight outings so far (or all three, if you count his 2005 bout against Garry Delaney when both men weighed a little over 200lbs) have ended in stoppage with heavy knockdowns in Haye’s favour.

Haye’s record currently stands at 22-1-0 (21 by KO). His sole decision win came against Ismail Abdoul in 2006. This is notable for a few reasons. Firstly, those who have seen the fight noted that Haye made little attempt to go outright for the knockout, instead appearing happy to go the distance, perhaps just to get the knowledge that he could go the 12 rounds comfortably. Secondly, from 15 losses to date, Abdoul has only been stopped once, by former cruiserweight world champ Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in the 12th & final round fairly early on in his career. Abdoul has since gone the distance with numerous big hitters other than Haye, including Tomasz Adamek, Vincenzo Cantatore, Enzo Maccarinelli & Marco Huck, proving to be a very durable operator.

A number of Haye’s victories have seen devastating knockouts, even over opponents who were reckoned to give him a very stern test – Examples include Alexander Gurov, (whom Haye stopped with one massive right hand in around 40 seconds of the start of the fight), Jean-Marc Mormeck, Enzo Maccarinelli & Tomasz Bonin, who while I appreciate is not a world-class heavyweight operator, nonetheless was not before seen as being a walkover & sported a 37-1-0 record at the time of fighting Haye, Bonin was knocked down heavily three times and stopped mercifully by referee Ian John-Lewis at the time of 1.45 of the first round. It’s the nature of knockouts such as these that have earned Haye’s reputation as a chilling puncher.

Of Klitschko’s impressive 52 wins, 46 have come by KO, a commanding 88% ratio compared with Haye’s 95%. Wladimir’s stoppage victims include Chris Byrd (second time around), Frans Botha, Jameel McCline, Lamon Brewster, Hasim Rahman & Monte Barrett (also stopped by Haye – Klitschko took 7 rounds, Haye 5).

Klitschko can punch well with either hand, and as previously said, can put together excellent combinations when in the right mood. In fact, it tends to be the combinations that does for his opponents. A little like his brother Vitali, (although I believe Wladimir probably has the greater pop) Klitschko junior’s is not as concussive a single-punch hitter as some, but his accuracy, momentum & superior boxing ability is usually more than enough to overwhelm his opponents within the distance.

Whilst I realise this might not a view shared by all, I actually believe that Haye possesses the bigger single punch – His haymaker right hand if landed flush would put a great proportion of heavyweights to sleep with one shot. Kiltschko has a superior jab to Haye & left hooks appear similar, possibly with the advantage to Kiltschko.

Advantage - Haye


This might be the most controversial (and critical) factor of all. Both fighters are reckoned to be chinny. All of their combined four losses are by KO. Much has been written about Wladimir’s ability to take a shot, and I don’t want to add needlessly to it – To his credit he always gets up, which says a lot about his character. Against Sam Peter he was knocked down three times but came back to win, nearly stopping the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ in the process.

Haye has also tasted the canvass a few times in his career – Against cruiserweights. He has not yet been knocked down by a heavyweight & many detractors have opined that he won’t be able to take a flush heavyweight shot from a good puncher.

In his single loss, Haye punched himself out against wily old fox Carl Thompson (himself a very good & underrated puncher – catch his come-from-behind win against Sebastiaan Rothmann for one of the finest single KI shots you will ever see). Haye was not knocked down or out in this loss and was stopped by his own corner. In addition he was down against Mormeck & Lolenga Mock. Both times in those instances he appeared unhurt.

Klitschko has been down several times, but what’s notable is that he’s been stopped from as a result of exhaustion –twice. The first time was his first loss against sturdy journeyman Ross Purritty & then in dramatic fashion against Lamon Brewster. Wladimir was clearly winning both fights at the time.

This happening once can be seen as a fluke but twice has to be reckoned as a flaw. Haye acknowledged that his loss to Thompson was a lesson he needed to learn & he appears to be a better fighter now for it.

Despite the question marks surrounding Haye’s ability to take shots from the really big boys, I think to not give him the advantage here based on the facts is ignoring the facts, which suggest to me that Wladimir’s chin is more consistently suspect.

Advantage - Haye


It is in this department that Klitschko has received much criticism, especially over the last 5 years or so.

It frustrates boxing fans to see Klitschko fight so negatively (for possibly the best or worst example of this depending on the way you look at this, check out his fight against Sultan Ibragimov) when they know he’s capable of such graceful devastation.

That said, there is an argument that he does what’s taken to win & employs the best tactics to do this. With Emmanuel Steward in his corner, you can be sure that Wladimir will come to the fight with a considered strategy.

Haye has been considered to be a breath of fresh air in the boxing world. This is because of his willingness to take on challenges & fight the best he can. This same drive could have damaged his reputation when he came unstuck taking on a proven quality fighter in Carl Thompson in only his eleventh fight, but Haye dusted himself down, praised Thompson for doing a good job, admitted his shortcomings & vowed that he’d be the better man for it. This can-do positive attitude won back favour with the boxing fraternity.

Haye’s trainer, Adam Booth works well with his man. David has clearly laid his cards on the table by pressing for this fight & is staking his reputation on it. He clearly believes his natural advantages – speed, power & aggressiveness will see him through. Whilst that seems to me like a salient argument, will they be enough?

Advantage - Kliltschko

Attitude & confidence

If there’s any area other than speed in which Klitschko has a clear advantage, this has to be it. Haye confidence does more than border on arrogance it goes well into it. That same self-belief has to be one of his key benefits going into this fight. The Londoner genuinely seems to thrive on the big occasions.

Kiltschko is almost the opposite. It’s taken some years for self-confidence to rebuild since his devastating losses to Corrie Sanders & Lamon Brewster. Beating Brewster by rematch should have helped with this, but Wladimir simply hasn’t really shown the same fluency & style we all know he can display for some years now. In addition, he’s taken on some fairly average fighters of late – Ray Austin, Tony Thompson & most recently a shell of Hasim Rahman. I appreciate that this as more the fault of the IBF & WBO than the big man himself.

Advantage - Haye

In conclusion, I think this is going to be a very interesting fight & a very close one to call. I for one am certainly looking forward to it.

My heart says Haye, but my head leans towards Klitschko. I’m going to go with my heart on this one & say that in a give & take battle Haye comes through & gets the stoppage.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Article posted on 11.04.2009

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