Boxing

Will David Haye accept Vitali Klitschko’s offer, and become Dr Ironfist’s toughest opponent since Lennox Lewis?

Bill Patrice Jones - The clamour for a heavyweight unification clash between David Haye and one of the Klitschko brothers has reached boiling point in the fall out of Haye’s despicable title defence against Audley Harrison. Almost immediately upon hearing Haye promise the fights with 99.9% certainty, should the financing be fair, Vitali has once again thrown his hat into the ring.

The David Haye Audley Harrison ‘best of enemies’ farce has gone beyond heightening the need for a real heavyweight title fight. It has literally rendered anything else on Haye’s part; meaningless. If Haye wants redemption he must surely step into the ring with one of the Ukrainian siblings and put his skills and power to the ultimate test.. When Haye Vs Harrison was first announced most insiders rightfully declared the match a farce. Surprisingly Harrison’s repeated outbursts combined with skysports shamefully deceptive promotion, actually convinced people it was going to be a real fight! Whether Audley Harrison was genuinely delusional, or simply a con artist who talked his way into big money has yet to be answered. The only positive is that it may leave Haye with no option besides finally backing up his boast to unify the division. The Haye Vs Harrison bout always had the potential to end up being an embarrassing night for boxing. It turned out to be so embarrassing that Haye’s impressive finish in the third round, specifically where he planned to end it, is struggling to receive much praise. The improvements in Haye’s game have been lost amidst a sea of despondency over the whole charade.

Sounding more assertive than ever before both Haye and his manager/promoter Adam Booth promised with almost total certainty that the unification clashes will take place next year. Though they failed to respond to a 50/50 offer made by the Wladimir Klitschko camp earlier this year, they must surely respond to this recent offer made by Vitali? What though are Haye’s chances? Furthermore what makes Klitschko so confident of victory?

If Haye does meet Vitali next year there can be no doubt; he will be Vitali’s toughest foe since Lennox Lewis back in 2003. Haye poses a whole host of problems, none of the six men who have challenged Vitali since his comeback did. David Haye may deserve his fair share of criticism for the ‘best of enemies’ fiasco, but be under no illusion; he is by far the only true threat to the Klitschko brother’s stranglehold. Tomasz Adamek (scheduled to fight Vinnie Maddalone) struggled greatly with an ageing Michael Grant, and has done little besides outpointing an extremely overweight Chris Arreola. The Polish warrior deserves admiration for his drive for heavyweight stardom, but he has in large part merely capitalised on the weakness in the field after the Klitschko’s. David Haye has of course done the same, but his athleticism and sickening power make all the difference. Odlanier Solis (scheduled to fight Ray Austin in WBC title eliminator) is one more hopeful with tremendous talent, but unless he learns to dedicate himself now he will more than likely find himself on the receiving end of a one sided Klitschko fight one year down the line.

David Haye is a different kind of animal in the ring. For all of his charisma, humour and rhetoric in promotion, no one can deny that once inside the ropes he can be: brutal, powerful and animalistic in his approach. With the sole exception of the Nikolai Valuev fight for the WBA title, Haye has always looked to outhit who he is matched with. There are growing numbers of boxing fans who are increasingly likely to ridicule David for his recent antics. Wladimir Klitschko himself even proclaimed on ringside (a British boxing programme) that Haye is ‘becoming a clown’. If people want to criticise Haye, for not signing to fight one of the Klitschkos, that is fine. However to brand him a ‘coward’ or ‘chicken’ for not doing so is laughably inaccurate. If David Haye has proved one thing throughout his career, it is that he is unafraid to fight. Though it was of little importance given the lopsided nature of the bout, his analysis of the strident difference between himself and Audley Harrison was percipient. Ultimately Haye is a fighter, someone who enjoys the combat of the sport, and someone who is confident his power will see him through. Yes Haye has disappointed us by not making the fights in the past, but no he is still a warrior when he climbs through the ropes. Matched against tough opponents early as a cruiserweight, he has only once been outgunned in a contest. His unusual approach to the game along with his trainer have often been criticised, and their ability to fulfil ambition has been doubted. So far he has proven people wrong, but a victory over Vitali would propel him to the status of legend killer. It would dwarf all previous achievements. Fans need to believe that Haye has decided to take his own path in the sport, and this has led him to back away from Klitschko fights at strategic points in his career. After all, few other heavyweights, if any, had the option of making money elsewhere when offered a Klitschko fight. Though good fighters, the likes of Samuel Peter and Shannon Briggs could make next to nothing moneywise if they decided not to sign a contract to meet one of the brothers. It would be hard for any fighter to turn down the possibility of making upwards of 5 million for an easy nights work. All will be forgiven though if Haye and Booth successfully negotiate their way into a Klitschko bout.

Vitali Klitschko, surprisingly, seems unmoved or unperturbed by anything he has seen on Haye’s part so far. He has thoroughly dominated and crushed each one of his opponents since returning in 2008. Yes he has faced punchers, yes he has faced live opposition but no, he has not yet faced someone who was capable of tuning a losing fight around. Even against reputed big hitters (Peter, Arreola and Briggs) you never seriously thought they were going to land a haymaker and change the course of the bout? All of Dr Ironfist’s recent opponents have been lacking in skills, stamina or athleticism. Vitali is one of the most physically strong heavyweight champions in history, and he should rightfully take his place in the HOF after retirement. The persistent problem on his part has always been the pursuit of a worthwhile opponent against whom a crushing victory will leave no doubt as to his greatness.

David Haye Vs Vitali Klitschko would be a sensational event in boxing if it took place. After the horror show in Manchester last week such a fight is even more necessary. Will Haye accept? We must surely hope so. His style will pose Vitali big problems. Can Vitali keep Haye from springing forward with his viciously powerful hooks? Will Haye be sufficiently elusive to keep himself from being dominated? Both fighters may look far easier to defeat on the screen than their opponents find in real life. Both contemptuously drop their hands. Will Vitali be able to get away with it against Haye? The most crucial question is what happens when either fighter lands their punches? Haye insists no fighter alive can take his power; it is hard to imagine even Vitali shaking them off if he gets caught clean.

The stakes could hardly be any greater for Vitali (or Wladimir for that matter) if the fight does get made. A dominant victory and the doubters must surely be silenced. Yet a knockout loss to a 210 pound former cruiserweight would be catastrophic for his legacy.

For what it’s worth Vitali Klitschko would be the rightful favourite against Haye, though David would be a good man to bet on causing an upset. 210 pounds is his natural fighting weight, and this writer would hate to see him gain any more to lessen the disparity on fight night.

With all the governing body nonsense over the years, and inadequacy on the part of contenders/titlists to stay in shape, fulfil potential or provide worthwhile challenges to great heavyweight champions: Vitali and Wladimir, the appetite for a competitive heavyweight fight has grown. Vitali Klitschko Vs David Haye would surely bring eminence back to the big guys. It needs to happen!

Article posted on 17.11.2010



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