On the 02nd July 2011 David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye faces the biggest challenge of his boxing life when he squares up against the might of the number one heavyweight in the World; Wladimir ‘Dr Steelhammer’ Klitschko (seriously, that’s his nickname? How lame is that?!). In arguably the highest profile fight since Lennox Lewis destroyed Mike Tyson almost a decade ago, two of the top three heavyweights fight it out in a unification battle.
At stake will be Haye’s WBA belt, which he won against the lumbering limited giant Nikolai Valuev in 2009 and has defended twice against John Ruiz and Audley Harrison. Haye is adamant that he will retire before he turns 31 later in the year regardless of the outcome of this bout, but a victory would surely make a fight against Wladimir’s WBC champion brother Vitali a must make mega-matchup.
Wladimir Klitschko brings to the table the IBF, WBO, IBO and Ring belts along with the tag as ‘the Man’ at heavyweight. Along with the belts he also brings a record of 55 wins out of 58 fights, an amazing 49 coming by way of knock-out! He has a major height and weight advantage over Haye, standing 6 ft 6 inches and usually coming in at around 18 stone mark. He is, in all senses of the word, a bonafide heavyweight fighter.
Haye, on the other hand, is a relative heavyweight novice with only 5 bouts at the weight. He won the title in only his 3rd heavyweight fight against Valuev after easy ‘taster’ bouts against Tomasz Bonin and the ageing Monte Barrett. The majority of his career has been spent at Cruiserweight where he had an excellent victory against Jean Mormeck to unify the division.
Whilst Haye is no ‘titch’ standing at 6 ft 3 inches and fighting at a weight of between 15 and 16 stone, his physical statistics look no match to Wlad’s. However, what Haye appears to lack on paper doesn’t really transcend into the ring. He is an amazing athlete, in awesome shape and with power that defies his size. He throws shots from varied angles and has a real killer instinct once he has his opponent hurt. He holds a professional record of 25 wins, 23 coming by the way of knockout. His only defeat came in the early stages of his career against the ring savvy veteran Carl ‘the Cat’ Thompson in a fight Haye dominated early on, but appeared to ‘gas’ as the fight went on. Whilst these stamina issues don’t appear to have been completely cured, in defeating Valuev over 12 rounds he demonstrated definite improvement.
His problem appears to be that he often tries to blast opponents out early with heavy energy sapping combinations. If these don’t do the job he appeared slightly vulnerable to gassing. This was evident in the John Ruiz fight, although
he ultimately came through and stopped the durable American.
Klitschko has 3 defeats on his knockout laden record – all against fighters he should easily have beaten. His first loss came against the journeyman Ross Puritty in December 1998 by an 11th round TKO. Wladimir had entered the fight as a heavy favourite and with a record of 24-0. He then went some way to dismissing this defeat as a mere ‘blip’ with wins over experienced names such as Monte Barrett, Chris Byrd (to win the WBO Heavyweight title) , Francois Botha and Ray Mercer in a 4 year period which took his record to an impressive 40-1. Then came the 2003 disaster against ‘power puncher’ Corrie Sanders. Klitschko was stopped in the early seconds of the 2nd round after Sanders connected at will once he has him in trouble. This really raised question marks over Wladimir’s ‘chin’, which were further exposed by
Lamon Brewster a year later. Again, Wlad suffered a TKO, this time the fight being stopped at the end of round 5 with him being unable to continue. Despite employing the services of the legendary Emmanual Steward, this defeat left Klitschko’s career in tatters. His confidence was rock botton. Freddie Roach has recently stated that around this period he had told Wlad what a fine athlete he was. To this Wlad is alleged to have replied “I wish I could fight”!
Despite calls to retire coming from many sources including his champion brother Vitali, Wlad, under the masterful eye of Steward, went about the pain-staking task of redeeming his career for a second time – and he has done so in spectacular style! Since the defeat to Brewster in 2004 he has gone on a winning streak which is still intact. Victories against big hitting Samuel Peters (twice), Chris Byrd, Calvin Brock, Ray Austin, revenge against Lamon Brewster, Sultan Ibragimov, Tony Thompson, Hasim Rahman, Ruslan Chagaev and Eddie Chambers has seen him establish himself as the Heavyweight king. Whilst his brother Vitali currently holds the WBC belt (both brothers have always maintained they will never fight each other – memories of childhood scraps perhaps?!), the only belt missing from their collection is the WBA strap which proudly hangs around the six pack of England’s David Haye.
Since the Brewster defeat Wlad has adopted a safety first approach to his fights. He stays behind a potent left jab and only commits himself to opening up once his opponent is clearly finished. Whilst many claim his style to be boring, the power behind this jab should not be underestimated – as many of his opponents claim it to harder than most heavyweights’ full blown shots.
Come the 2nd July it will be interesting to see what tactics Haye chooses. It’s highly likely that Wladimir will box as he always does, cautiously behind the solid left jab. However, less certain is how David Haye will approach the fight. Many believe he will go all out from the first bell, trying to take Wlad out before he gets into his rhythm. Others believe he will use tactics similar to the Valuev fight where he ran and occasionally picked off the giant. My personal opinion is that such tactics would not work against Wladimir who is far more active, accurate and quicker than the lumbering giant Valuev. I believe Haye will use the first couple of rounds to find his range, keeping away from Wlad’s jab and staying on the back foot. I then expect him to unleash powerful combinations from round 3, with the hope of taking Wlad out by KO or TKO.
It is my belief this is David’s best chance of a victory, although I would still consider Wlad the strong favourite, despite the British press’s usual biased take that Wlad is a past-it hasbeen. The picture will be much clearer once Haye finally tastes Wlads jab. How he reacts to that first shot may very well shape the rest of the fight.
Either way by midnight GMT either David Haye or Wladimir Klitschko will have the WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO and Ring belts in their possession and the title of best heavyweight in the World. Whether anyone will rank them with the true greats despite that amazing achievement is anyone’s guess
You can take part in Boxing challenges, exercises, workouts and much more on Konkura.com, or create your own challenges in moments for you and your boxing friends.