On July 2, 2011, David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye faces the greatest challenge of his life in boxing when he faces the power of the world’s number one heavyweight; Wladimir ‘Dr Steelhammer’ Klitschko. In possibly the highest-profile fight since Lennox Lewis destroyed Mike Tyson nearly a decade ago, two of the top three heavyweights fight in a unification battle. At stake will be Haye’s WBA belt, who won against the heavy and limited behemoth Nikolai Valuev in 2009 and has defended twice against John Ruiz and Audley Harrison. Haye insists that he will retire before his 31st birthday later in the year regardless of the outcome of this fight, but a win would surely make a fight against Wladimir’s Wladimir champion brother Vitali a ‘must-have mega-showdown. ‘.
Wladimir Klitschko brings the IBF, WBO, IBO and Ring belts to the table along with the label as ‘the Man’ in heavyweight. Along with the belts, he also brings a record 55 wins out of 58 fights – an incredible 49 by knockout! He has a huge height and weight advantage over Haye, standing at 6 feet 6 inches and generally approaching the 18 stone mark. He is, in every sense of the word, a true heavyweight fighter.
Haye, on the other hand, is a relatively heavyweight rookie with only 5 bouts at the weight. He won the title in just his third heavyweight fight against Valuev after easy “test” bouts against Tomasz Bonin and the aging Monte Barrett. Most of his career has been spent at cruiserweight, where he had an excellent win against Jean Mormeck to unify the division. While Haye is not a 6-foot-3-inch titch and struggles with a weight of between 15 and 16 stones, his physical stats don’t seem to match Wlad’s. However, what Haye seems to be lacking in the role doesn’t really transcend the ring. He is an incredible athlete, in incredible shape and with power that defies his size. He throws shots from various angles and has a real killer instinct once he hurts his opponent. He has a professional record of 25 wins, 23 of them by knockout. His only loss came in the early stages of his career against veteran Carl ‘the Cat’ Thompson in a fight that Haye dominated early on but seemed to ‘pick up on’ as the fight progressed. While these stamina issues don’t appear to have been fully cured, by defeating Valuev in 12 rounds he demonstrated a definite improvement. His problem seems to be that he often tries to take down opponents early with energy-intensive combinations. If these don’t work, it seemed a bit vulnerable to “fumes.” This was evident in the John Ruiz fight, although he eventually pulled it off and stopped the durable American.
Klitschko has 3 losses on his knockout record, all against fighters he should have easily beaten. His first loss was against Officer Ross Puritty in December 1998 by an eleventh round TKO. Wladimir had entered the fight as a huge favorite and with a 24-0 record. Then somehow he dismissed this loss as a mere ‘blip’ with wins over seasoned names like Monte Barrett, Chris Byrd (to win the WBO heavyweight title), Francois Botha and Ray Mercer over a 4-year span. that took his record. to an impressive 40-1. Then came the 2003 disaster against “mighty puncher” Corrie Sanders. Klitschko was stopped in the opening seconds of the second round after Sanders connected at will once it got him in trouble. This really raised questions about Wladimir’s ‘chin’, which were further exposed by Lamon Brewster a year later. Once again Wlad suffered a TKO, this time the fight was stopped at the end of round 5 and he was unable to continue. Despite employing the services of the legendary Emmanual Steward, this defeat left Klitschko’s career in shambles. His confidence was the bottom of the rock. Freddie Roach has recently stated that around this period he had told Wlad what a good athlete he was. To this, Wlad is said to have replied, “I wish I could fight!”
Despite calls to retire from many sources, including his champion brother Vitali, Wlad, under the masterful gaze of Steward, undertook the arduous task of redeeming his career for the second time, and he has done so in spectacular style! Since losing to Brewster in 2004, he has had a winning streak that remains intact. The victories against the big hit Samuel Peters (twice), Chris Byrd, Calvin Brock, Ray Austin, the revenge against Lamon Brewster, Sultan Ibragimov, Tony Thompson, Hasim Rahman, Ruslan Chagaev and Eddie Chambers have made him the king of the heavy weights. While his brother Vitali currently has the WBC belt (both brothers have always maintained that they will never fight each other), the only belt missing from their collection is the WBA belt that hangs proudly from the English David Haye’s six pack. Since Brewster’s loss, Wlad has taken a safe approach to his fights. He stays behind a powerful left jab and only agrees to open up once his opponent has clearly finished. While many claim that his style is boring, the power behind this jab should not be underestimated, as many of his opponents claim that it is harder than the full shots of most heavyweights.
On July 2 it will be interesting to see what tactics Haye chooses. Wladimir most likely boxes as usual, cautiously behind the solid left jab. However, it is less certain how David Haye will approach the fight. Many believe that he will do his best from the first bell, trying to get Wlad out before he gets into his groove. Others believe he will use tactics similar to the Valuev fight where he ran and occasionally took out the giant. My personal opinion is that such tactics would not work against Wladimir, who is much more active, accurate and faster than the clumsy Valuev. I think Haye will use the first couple of rounds to find his range, staying away from Wlad’s jab and staying defensive. Then I hope he unleashes powerful round 3 combinations, hoping to eliminate Wlad by KO or TKO. I think this is David’s best chance of victory, although I would still consider Wlad the big favorite. The image will be much clearer once Haye finally tests Wlad’s jab. How you react to that first shot can influence the rest of the fight.
Either way, at midnight GMT, 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.