By Scoop Malinowski, boxinginsider.com: A heated, new rivalry is forming in the bland heavyweight division. It’s a war of words grudge with tensions and hostilities, the type that elevate boxing matches into Super Fight extravaganza events. Yes, we’re talking about the animosity-filled feud between upstart heavyweight prospect David Haye of England and IBF/WBO Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko..
We are going to be watching how the psychological warfare develops between these two extremely confident warriors who appear destined to meet in a year or two.
The disagreements between the two began after Klitschko unified the Heavyweight titles by dominating Sultan Ibragimov in February. Haye sharply criticized Klitschko’s performance. “You’ve got all these Russian pretenders,” Haye said mockingly. “These guys ain’t got no rhythm, no timing, no speed. They’re big and clumsy. Look at Klitschko the other night. It was an embarrassment to boxing what he did. He should be stripped of his title just for that performance alone. It was a disgrace and I can’t wait to go up and knock that bum out.”
“The heavyweight division is a disgrace. I watched the Klitschko (Ibragimov) fight in a bar in Miami. It was one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen in my life. Embarrassing. It made me ashamed to call myself a boxer. Klitschko was scared to throw a jab against a smaller opponent. He focused all his energy on a silly, little slap. If that’s all I got to be worried about, I’ll be undisputed champion in quick time.”
Klitschko responded shortly after: “I hadn’t heard about David Haye at all until last month,” said Klitschko. “But I’ve checked his record and he is a good fighter with a good record. If he wants to bring excitement then I wish him best of luck. He better get himself in the gym and get ready to fight. He is young and is trying to put attention on himself and that may work for him because he has to be very loud, but not only with his words but with his actions. I wish him the best of luck with that.”
Haye’s next verbal shots were fired at Klitschko in Las Vegas during Calzaghe-Hopkins weekend. Haye said to boxingtalk.com, “I’m definitely going to go out there and win the undisputed heavyweight title. The only way to do that is to fight Wladimir Klitschko. That’s the guy I want and I want him ASAP. The longer he leaves it, the more I know he is going to try to get out of this fight. He doesn’t want to fight me, I know if for a fact.”
Klitschko then traveled to London last week to launch the charity ‘Fight For Peace’ and while on route to the event was confronted by Haye and several media people. Haye, like a young Cassius Clay to Liston began demanding a fight with Klitschko, seemingly oblivious to the known fact Klitschko is already schedule to fight Tony Thompson in July and then Alexander Povetkin later in the year. Haye was almost hysterical but quite confident at the same time. “I know I can beat you.” Klitschko responded to his antagonist with cool and reason. “Ah Mr. Haye.” It was all very interesting theater, an intriguing clash of two alpha-males.
“I met this guy yesterday,” Wladimir told Setanta Sports Network on April 25. “I’d never heard of him before (February), but he was so loud I could’ve heard his voice overseas. This guy is nuts. He’s a nice guy, but he’s so excited about his career and moving up to the heavyweight division and winning all the titles. He’s definitely got a good punch and is a great boxer but he’s just so loud it’s unbelievable.”
“He’s built up his name in Great Britain already but he has to make a name for himself in America. He has to have a couple of good fights at heavyweight and, after that, who knows?, Klitschko said. “If he continues to do well then maybe we will fight each other.”
“Our meeting didn’t even start, you can’t talk to him, it’s impossible, he’s nuts,” Klitschko told BBC Sport. “He has great potential, but he has to put some weight on and get some fights as a heavyweight. Then we’ll see. This year is impossible because I have two (mandatories) in a row. “The WBO is going to be the next fight on 12 July (against undefeated American left-hander Tony Thompson) and the IBF will be at the end of the year (vs. Alexander ‘Sasha’ Povetkin).”
One can only imagine what each warrior learned about the other when they were together for the first time. Who’s will is greater? Who has the mental edge? Who was bluffing? Who really is more confident?
“Maybe Great Britain is going to have the next undisputed heavyweight champion of the world,” Klitschko admitted. And with a sly smile, added. “But only after I retire.”
Boxing needs more rivalries like this between healthy, dominant personalities. Clashes of egos like between Klitschko and Haye are what get people buzzing, inspire debate and generate excitement for spectacular mega events. Klitschko and Haye appear on the way to an inevitable showdown. We will be watching this rivalry very closely as it develops. Surely Episode 2 of the Klitschko-Haye Feud will happen soon, stay tuned…
Scoop’s book Tyson vs. Lewis Heavyweight Armageddon! will be released in June.