“The Weigh In”: Haye versus Klitschko and other things

06.04.09 - By Michael Klimes: Very few boxers can talk and fight these days and David Haye is a trash talker par excellence. When one reads this website’s comment pages surrounding his latest statements or antics, the polarisation of opinion is highly amusing as the keyboard warriors feverishly tap away in a competition to find the finest ad hominem to apply to Haye and more significantly each other. It is difficult to decipher the demographic of this cyberspace shouting match compared, to say, the discourse that surrounds a Mexican versus Puerto Rican bout or an American versus British fight..

There the lines are more clearly drawn. I have noticed one member’s comments in particular and they are none other than those of Ted Sares. He seems to be exasperated, and understandably so, that Haye just won’t shut up and get on with it. The arrogant or charismatic Londoner, depending on one’s point of view, seems to enjoy himself a little too much but what one cannot deny is that the man has raised the share prices of the heavyweight division, even in a credit crunch, with his entry and excessive verbosity. He is generating excitement. So has Vitali Klitschko, who is enjoying a late renaissance after it looked like injury had terminated his impressive career. Currently, the obstacle in between them is the younger Wladimir Klitschko who will meet Haye in June. This triumvirate of three very able boxers are the most important in the division and the potential scenarios that are unfolding between them are fascinating.

James Slater has written about the contractual acrobatics that Haye has been subjected too and it sounds like the typical and sordid mess of boxing politics. I have to be honest and admit I do not know too much about the supposed controversy flying around. It seems confusing, but I will advance some possible scenarios of what could happen regardless of the contracts, which should always be treated with a degree of scepticism. Boxing contracts are as binding as all those United Nations resolutions. Hopefully, these complications between Haye and Wladimir do not have any substance.

If Haye is annihilated by Klitschko in June, he will probably never share a ring with either of the brothers again and his reputation will deflate very quickly. Haye has talked himself into such a corner that he must not only win but win in style. If he does defeat Klitschko with flair and gusto, there will probably not be a rematch as the press will demand the next logical step is a confrontation between him and Vitali. Vitali will undoubtedly feel it is a personal affair and his brotherly duty to shred Haye; the rivalry will have an intriguingly dark edge. However, if the fight with Wladimir is close, a rematch might be in order and the person who holds the advantage in that department is definitely Wladimir as many champions usually, at least to my knowledge, have rematch clauses at the ready in case anything goes disastrously wrong. A plot that could unfold, but one that I do not think is very likely, is that Haye might be given bouts by both brothers, no matter happens. The argument runs that he has irritated them both and could be perceived to earn them a fairly easy payday due to his stature both commercially and physically: he is a popular fighter but a chin-weak cruiserweight with an ego that fans will pay to see demolished. Also, let’s be honest and admit that there are not too many challenges out there for the Klitschkos.

I think it is in the interests of the heavyweight division that Haye takes down one of the brothers as Wladimir and Vitali will never fight each other and therefore as long as they remain the dominant belt holders, we will never see an undisputed champion. It is fortunate for Haye that he is clashing with Wladimir first because the younger Ukrainian is known to be mentally fragile. As a physical specimen, he is superior to his brother in general athleticism and technique.

Wladimir can throw beautifully accurate and devastating punches whether they are single jabs, crosses or hooks and they come in combinations as well. This is not to say Vitali lacks class, he has underrated speed, agility and athleticism but the sibling who is less robotic is the younger one. However, Wladimir cannot take a punch while Vitali can and this is where Haye’s speed and power can cause Wladimir problems although the argument reverses itself easily. Both of these boxers are more similar then they would like to acknowledge: they are known for their speed, power, punch variety and inability to take a sucker punch like Librado Andrade or Antonio Margarito.
In forecasting Haye versus Klischko it makes sense for Haye to rely on speed while Wladmir should be using his size and power to impose himself on his smaller opponent. Haye’s tactics and execution must be perfect to beat his larger foe and he has the intelligence and ability to do this but a lot will depend on Wladimir as his career has a history of being erratic. When he is at his best and has rhythm, Wladimir is a brilliant fighter. Nonetheless, he can be docile at times and is occasionally hesitant to go after his opponent that is frustrating. However, whatever the conjecture, the course of bout should be decided by who lands the biggest punches first. An aspect of the fight, which is left to dispute is does this heavyweight match have any meaning in the United States for Americans? It would appear to contain an atmosphere of insularity from their perspective as there is no national lubricant, which is always makes fights sell.

In other heavyweight action Alexander Povetkin took on Jason Estrada and is still clearly a work in progress. A fight between him and Chris Arreola would be worth seeing as it would decide who really deserves a title shot. Still, there was stirring drama south of the border as Edwin Valero, Michael Katsidis and Tim Bradley all secured impressive victories in eye popping encounters.

Valero appears set for superstardom as he is one of the most dynamic and brutal punchers in years. Katsidis is back in the lightweight mix after beating an aged but still game Jesus Chavez and could meet Valero in the future, which would put a man who could be a protagonist out of The Iliad against a fighter who likes to get things done extremely quickly. Bradley used a solid jab, head movement, work rate and produced a gutsy effort to defeat the speedy and explosive Kendall Holt who did not do enough to win his bout. Librado Andrade also demonstrated he is very much a force in the super middleweight division and could have a rematch with Lucien Bute. Overall, it was a good weekend for boxing with Texas and Montreal demonstrating they are bastions of boxing.

Article posted on 06.04.2009

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