Prior to Wednesday, one could be forgiven for doubting that the most anticipated fight in the heavyweight division -- champion Wladimir Klitschko vs. David Haye -- was really going to happen. Sure, they'd signed some contracts, but they didn't have a location or a television deal, and such details had killed the fight over the past several years. Maddeningly, these two men kept circling each other outside the ring rather than inside it.
Now, though, Klitschko-Haye has both a location and a TV deal: the bout will be in Hamburg Germany, where it will surely fill up the 55,000-seat soccer stadium that is hosting it, and air in the United States on HBO (with other countries getting their TV deals in line, too). And with that, all the obstacles have now fallen away to THE fight that can make the heavyweights -- boxing's most important division to the layman -- relevant again for one night on July 2.
Haye has been explicitly calling out the Klitschko brothers since 2008, and had been yapping about them for a long time beforehand back when he was the top dog at cruiserweight. And while a large swath of boxing fandom expects that Wladimir-Haye will be an unmitigated slaughter ending in Klitschko retaining his lineal Ring Magazine championship belt, there is also a swath of boxing fandom that believes Haye is the most dangerous man who Klitschko will ever have faced. I count myself in the latter camp, even though I think Klitschko is the one most likely to emerge victorious.
Haye, a charismatic, braggadacious type with good enough looks to have done some work as a male model, is arguably the quickest top-notch heavyweight since Muhammad Ali, and all indicators in his four fights at heavyweight are that he's carried up at least a pretty significant percentage of the unreal power he demonstrated at cruiserweight. Klitschko is the dominant heavyweight of the past six years, an emotionless, efficient, Ivan Drago-like Soviet machine with a Men's Health cover-worthy physique and athletic qualities that usually aren't found among modern behemoth heavies, and Haye's trash talk has brought out the fire within him that he rarely exhibits when boxing.
And both of them are prone to crumbling the moment someone hits them flush in the mouth. Anything could happen.
There is always the chance this fight doesn't go how we want it to, maybe even lots of chances. Maybe Haye pulls out with a questionable injury again like he did the first time, and if you are dubious about this fight happening even today, I still can't blame you. Maybe people in the United States can't get behind a Ukranian fighting a Brit. Maybe the gulf between Klitschko and the relatively-untested-at-heavyweight Haye is so wide that Klitschko crushes him with the first punch, and everyone talks about what a joke boxing is, even though it would be tremendously unfair given that nobody pissed on the sport after Mike Tyson crushed Michael Spinks in one round.
Maybe heavyweights taking the spotlight robs the lower weight classes that have been carrying the sport for so long of the cache they've built up. And maybe a Klitschko win robs the division of any drama or ambiguity, since there might be nobody on the horizon after Haye who could reasonably challenge him, as opposed to a Haye win, which opens up a whole universe of potential fights unless he quickly retires thereafter. (Wlad's big brother, Vitali, would qualify as a reasonable challenge to a victorious Wlad, but they have refused to fight one another because they promised their mother. If Vitali is upset by Tomasz Adamek in the fall, maybe Adamek becomes a fearsome challenger to Wladimir, but just about everybody thinks Adamek matches up better with Vitali than Wlad.)
Never mind all that. You can't worry about what might not happen. You can only make the best fights on paper and hope the best will come of it. That's what is happening here: The world's top heavyweight challenger and the world's top heavyweight are, at long last, really, truly, honestly going to fight.
I think Hayes best chance is to force the pace early and get Wlad breathing hard. That has worked before.
But there are a couple problems with that:
1) Wlad has the uber jab and that helps him to control the pace of fights
2)Haye has had stamina issues of his own and likes to pace himself. Like in the bout with Valuev.
Also, also, this will be the third time Haye has travelled to an opponent's back yard to try and take their title (Valuev and Klitchko obviously aren't German but do most of their fighting there - I'd say it's their yard). That's chops right there.
Also, Haye only pulled out first time because Setanta went under and he wasn't gonna be paid. Unlikely to happen again.
As explosive as Haye is, he punches only sparingly at times and was really frugal against the biggest couple of guys he's faced (Audley and Valuev). We all know how boring Wlad is so don't be surprised if it's tepid for a good few rounds. It gets exciting when Haye sets about Wlad.
Haye has to chop him down, whereas, Klitschko can end this with one punch (should he be brave enough to commit to anything other than a jab).
What we do get is a hungry, fit, althletic, confident challenger for the first time ever in a Klitschko title fight. Pity it took a cruiser to manage it.
Also, has Wlad really been dominant? I'd disagree considering his big brother is the better fighter of the two.
And it was Mike not Leon mate.
Regarding the Tyson-Spinks mention, I think that because no one truly cared about heavyweight boxing on a whole while they were so enraptured with Tyson, the main hope was to find the biggest available statues available for Iron Mike to hit, then glory as he knocked them down. Same reason why heavyweight boxing was said to be in disarray even as Holyfield was starting the good part of his reign.
Regarding this fight: I hope we see both fighters stunned. It feels like eons have passed since Klitschko-Peter I, even if so much of the damage caused in that fight really was just insanely wild rabbit punching by the supposed Nightmare. Seriously, I don't hope for a good fight, just for something like an entertaining fight.
@ThePJ See Haye going for the one-shot counter, rather than outworking. That's how he's fought against hte last two lunks he's been in against. Don't think his lack of stamina is such an issue in the rubbish heavyweight division, although Wlad's probably the, err, trimest (is that a word) of them out there...
@ThePJ Agreed on all points. Alternately he could try to counterpunch a la Solis, but that was against the slower Vitali, and it didn't end up well for him anyway.
@FunkyBadger Do it, man.