Haye-Klitschko: Who will salvage this deal?

By P.H. Burbridge – Well, the David Haye – Wladimir Klitschko fight is in serious jeopardy. At this point it’s near impossible to know one way or the other if this fight is going to come off. According to various reports Adam Booth, David Haye’s manager/trainer has said that the Klitschko’s are asking for too large a percentage of the UK PPV receipts which Booth believes should largely fall into David Haye’s bucket..

Bernd Boente, Klitschko’s manager has publicly stated that Haye’s team has shown a lack of professionalism and are too inexperienced to effectively negotiate this deal. They have also said that Team Haye is fueled largely by greed. I’m not sure that’s a fair statement when it comes to professional boxing because everyone is trying to get the best possible deal for their fighter. After all isn’t that what Boente is trying to do for the Klitschko’s? From a fans perspective, who knows what’s going on… Unless you’re sitting in the room and listening to both sides then you really have no clue as to how much of this is negotiating through the press or actually genuine hard core fact. Frankly, if Haye really wants this fight and I think he does then he might as well resign himself to the fact that he’s going to end up with the short end of the stick. He’s NOT the mandatory challenger and he’s also not the first fighter to have to deal with this kind of a situation. Being manipulated is part of the whole experience in professional boxing. Look at the deal that Joe Louis’ handlers agreed to so he could get the first crack at Jim Braddock ahead of Max Schmeling. Louis’ handlers agreed to pay the Cinderella Man 10% of the gross for all of Joe’s fights for the next ten years! Now, that’s a BAD deal.

Haye is really in a tough spot and I think he’s painted himself into a corner. If he stands firm and Wladimir passes then he will have to wait and fight his way to “mandatory” challenger status and barring any disasters that could take up to a couple of years to do. Not to mention the huge risks associated. Currently, they’re trying to negotiate a “voluntary” defense with Wlad. There’s nothing mandatory about this situation and WK has the luxury of passing on Haye. He could take on another contender without fear of being stripped. In other words, Wlad doesn’t need Haye. Sure, he wants to fight Haye so he can punish him for all the negative antics he’s been forced to endure over the last year or so. But, WK can punish him in another way and that’s to leave Haye out in the cold. That would be a shame for the boxing fans that are looking forward to this match. Regardless of what Bernd Boente say’s this is a marquee match up and aside from a fight with Chris Arreola there aren’t any other attractive fights on the horizon.

Speaking of Arreola, the Klitschko camp has stated if the Haye deal is not finalized soon and on their terms then they will turn their attention to the “The Nightmare” or “someone else”. This sounds familiar doesn’t it?!? If you recall Team Klitschko was talking to the same Arreola camp pretty intensely back in December about a fight at the Staple Center on May 16th. In fact, in a conversation I had with Arreola’s trainer, Henry Ramirez he said the whole team was pretty deflated after WK decided to go in a different direction. They REALLY wanted that fight and as fighters know it’s hard to maintain your motivation when there’s a change in plans and when you’re talking about a shot at the heavyweight championship of the world then you can imagine the let down. Since that deal fell through Arreola has done the right thing by agreeing to a fight on April 11th on the Paul Williams – Winky Wright undercard. So far, the opponent is unknown but Arreola is already in training and focused on changing the negative perception of his training habits. In theory, he could alter his plans to take Wladimir on in May but should he from a business stand point? Now, Chris has got a payday coming his way on April 11th and probably against a safe opponent who will give him just the right kind of work so why would he pass on that money when he knows that Wladimir’s going to have to deal with him at some point in the near future as “THE” mandatory challenger.

Frankly, I think Arreola is in a good spot. There’s no “fight yourself into contention” black cloud hanging over his head like the one that looms over David Haye. He’s ranked #2 in the world. A Wladimir Klitschko – Cristobal Arreola fight is going to do big numbers when it does take place. HBO is grooming Arreola and as long as he continues to win he will be featured on their telecasts and becoming a bigger a star with greater box office appeal along the way. There is no better exposure for a fighter than being featured on HBO! Eventually he will reach that mandatory status. I can’t imagine it taking longer than 12-18 months and being just shy of 28 years old means there’s certainly no rush. For Wladimir, if he wants to extract the most revenue possible out of a fight with Chris Arreola then it makes sense to wait.

That’s why I think Wladimir will go back to the Haye option and find a way to get that deal done. This could very well be just a negotiating ploy meant to scare Haye straight and force his signature on the contract on their terms. It may work. Adam Booth made in interesting comment about a fight with Haye bringing more revenue to Wladimir than a fight with Arreola. Two million dollars more! Again, we have no idea what numbers these guys are basing their statements on and their individual agendas but I wouldn’t think divulging this kind of financial data to the general public mid-process is a good management move. Its one thing to release some agreed upon terms after the deal is signed but don’t throw out dollar figures to make a theoretical point. That’s just foolish and lends credence to Bernd Boente’s assertion that Adam Booth is just too inexperienced to navigate through a deal of this magnitude.

Team Haye has got to get this thing signed even if it means at a considerable discount because another misstep and David Haye could find himself the odd man out. Forced to take risks against fighters for comparatively little reward in an effort to try and achieve mandatory challenger status.

David Haye, “If you’ve got your shot then take it because anything can happen in the ring and you might end up getting beat or sustaining an injury that makes any future consideration for a title shot a moot point!”

Beat Klitschko and you’ll be the one playing “chess” with the careers of your contemporaries!

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

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