Following an unfortunate series of injury induced withdrawals of late, notably Mayweather v Marquez, Kotelnik v Khan, Haye v Wladimir Klitschko, fans will be reluctant to presume David Haye’s mooted September 12th clash with 37 year old Vitali Klitschko is actually going to happen until the two men are staring across at each other with just a referee between them. However, in the interests of positivity – and the sport needs a pick me up following the sad loss of Gatti, Arguello and Caldwell in the past week – I’m willing to celebrate the news David Haye finally has his chance to back up his words with actions.
Following weeks of behind the scenes negotiations which originally looked likely to ostracise the loquacious but likable Haye from the heavyweight title picture, he now has his preferred target as his new opponent. Widely regarded as the more stout of the two Klitschko siblings, Vitali has an edge in durability, self-confidence and experience over his younger brother. What Vitali lacks in smoothness, he tempers with roughness.
This isn’t to claim Klitschko is a modern-day great, he isn’t, no heavyweight of the past hundred years could lay claim to greatness on the back of heavyweights who magnetise near refrigerators. Samuel, Danny, Corrie and Kirk all looked like the before picture in a slim-fast advert the nights they tackled the giant Ukrainian. Of course, that isn’t Vitali’s fault and he is a fighter who gets the job done without too much drama or crisis – an innate ability his often fragile brother must yearn for.
The presumption is Haye’s movement and hand-speed will present problems Klitschko the elder will not have the ability to deal with, it is true Corrie Sanders’ fast hands caused him problems as they had his brother. He had the chin and determination to prevail. In his most recent bout another former Cruiserweight with pedigree, Juan Carlos Gomez, albeit an ageing one, failed to overcome his reach disadvantgae or be able to land sufficiently to derail the WBC belt holder.
Haye meanwhile has weaknesses of his own. The reliability of his chin is frequently questionned, perhaps overstated, he did after all, get stopped on his feet versus Thompson and he did rise from knockdowns against Mock and Mormeck to win in some style, but he does carry his left low and if the Frenchman Mormeck can land overhand rights you do wonder what happens if Klitschko detonates a couple of one-two’s. Armageddon I suspect.
But it is both their weaknesses and strengths that make the contest on September 12th so alluring. British fans may find their wives less willing to sanction another trip to Europe given the injury history of both; Vitali pulled out on a series of fights before retiring for almost 4 years and Haye’s back – while presumed to be connected to Setanta’s finances – is a cause for concern too.
I’d love this fight to go Haye’s way, I’d argue it would be the healthiest result for the sport, but I have a greater certainty about Haye being smashed to the canvas with orthodox straight punches and meaty uppercuts on the inside. I cannot escape that picture. What do you think?