David Haye’s Tall Order

by Daniel Broda: With a week to go until WBA Heavyweight Champion David Haye’s megafight with IBF, WBO and IBO king Wladimir Klitschko, two views concerning the outcome have taken precedent. The opposing views are simple: either the British fighter wins early or Wlad takes victory late on. The wisdom behind such a view is that unless Haye’s explosiveness gets the Ukrainian out early, Wlad will wear down the smaller man with his accurate, powerful punches.

It is my opinion that this is very flattering towards the British fighter; whilst Haye has had a successful trip into the heavyweights, his fights at the unlimited weightclass can hardly been seen as adequate preparation for his showdown with Klitschko.

Haye boxed a good fight to win the WBA heavyweight title against the 7 foot Nikolay Valuev. For the most part he called upon his amateur experience to jab and move effectively. However, whilst its true Haye was slipping punches and indeed landing them in return, Valuev’s jab lacks the accuracy and power that Wlad’s brings. Also, let’s not forget that the Haye-Valuev fight was very close and some prominent boxing experts had scores in favour of the giant Russian.

Haye’s last fight, the farcical Audley Harrison contest, which Wladimir accurately dubbed the “Heavyweight Championship of London” fight, scarcely warrants comparison. However, it should be noted that Haye failed to take the initiative in either of the first two rounds when it was clear that Harrison was no threat. Yes, Haye won both rounds by showing greater ring generalship, but against Klitschko Haye has promised to “stick one on him as early as possible”. But with it taking him 3 rounds to fire a meaningful attack in the Harrison fight, do these claims have any backbone?

Wladimir has promised to punish David Haye in every round before knocking him out in the 12th, and if we consider Klitschko’s strengths this seems a likely outcome. In the early rounds, Klitschko is a fighter that puts his safety first using his strong jab to soften up opponents. In the later rounds he begins to follow his jab up more regularly with his devastating/powerful right cross - a fearsome combination for any opponent to face. Wlad’s power is very evident. Out of his 9 world title defences since 2006, 8 of them have resulted in knockout; and his chilling knockout of Calvin Brock in the 7h round of their IBF title fight in 2006 is a particular highlight.

Wlad’s safety-first approach suggests to me that any claims of Haye winning inside the first 5 rounds are ill-informed and misled. Haye is the probably biggest puncher that Wlad has faced since he was knocked out in two rounds by Corrie Sanders in 2003. Bearing this in mind, it wouldn’t make sense from Klitschko’s perspective to go out all guns blazing in the first few rounds incase he does get caught by one of Haye’s bombs. Moreover, Wlad will take heart from the fact that Haye barely took the initiative in his bouts against Valuev and Harrison, so it would be a surprise if the Brit took the fight to Klitschko, a much superior fighter to the aforementioned heavyweights.

Another factor that Klitschko can have confidence in is Haye’s perceived lack of late-round experience. Haye has only been past the 10th round twice in his career, the most recent of these coming against Nikolay Valuev in November 2009. This dispelled some of the murmurings about Haye’s stamina stemming from his cruiserweight days as it’s true that Haye looked fresh in the last round and even had the giant Russian in trouble after a monstrous left-right-left combination. However, the pace in that fight was not quick. Valuev didn’t attempt many combinations and most of his cumbersome jabs were easily slipped by Haye. With the more technically adept Klitschko firing more consistent, accurate and powerful jabs, some being followed by big rights, Haye is going to have to fight at a more demanding pace than he has ever previously fought in the heavyweight division.

Haye’s best chance in this fight is to be consistently on the move, circling to the right to keep out of the way of Wlad’s huge right cross, and attempting to land rights of his own. The obvious problem with such a plan is that constant backpedalling doesn’t look good for the judges, especially the notoriously inconsistent judges in Germany. If, however, after 4 or 5 rounds this plan isn’t working Haye must adjust and he must put himself in more danger in an attempt to score and score well. It would be too easy for Haye to run for 12 rounds and lose a wide decision - if the Brit is to have any chance in this fight then he is going to have to take chances and he is going to have to take some shots. This is a worrying actuality for Haye’s supporters as the British fighter has a suspect chin and was even wobbled by journeyman Monte Barrett back in 2008. For some, there is a belief that Haye won’t be able to take many of Klitschko’s blows having never before received a punch with the intensity possessed by Klitschko’s monstrous right.

For this writer, the most likely outcome on July 2nd is a Wladimir knockout at some point between rounds 9 and 11. The first round will be tentative; Wlad will use the ring well and fire with the jab early on. I’d be surprised if a legitimate exchange took place. Over the next few rounds Haye, knowing he is down on the scorecards, will fight with more urgency, landing more but taking some leather in return. Coming to the later rounds I see Haye’s pride ensuring that the fight remains competitive but a combination of fatigue and frustration resulting in his style becoming ragged. This will create gaps in his defence which the vastly experienced Klitschko will exploit with his punishing rights, one of which will knockout the game Haye at some point in the last 4 rounds.

Article posted on 25.06.2011

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