Looks like Wladimir Klitschko won the coin toss.
The younger Klitschko brother, who owns the IBF, IBO and WBO titles, will glove up with David Haye, the WBA champion, on July 2nd.
TSS reached Klitschko trainer Manny Steward, and the Kronk king chuckled when asked to verify what Mike Marley said, that we'd be seeing the most meaningful heavyweight showdown since Lennox Lewis destroyed what was remaining of Mike Tyson's mystique in 2002.
"Mike Woods is the first person to tell me this," said Steward, as he chuckled. The trainer said he'd almost touched base with Wlad on the phone today, but had a matter to intend to. "That's probably what he was calling about! That's gonna be big! The anger I saw in him in the second Chris Byrd fight, in 2006, that's the last time he got riled up. That nasty side...Guys that are so nice, like him and Lennox, they have a dark side to them. It comes out in the big fights, like it did for Lennox against Mike. He enjoyed brutalizing him, punishing him. Wladimir has the same dark side."
Klitschko (55-3 with 49 KOs), who turns 35 in March, will first fight 14-0 Brit Dereck Chisora, in a match reset from last month, after he hurt his stomach. They'll get it on April 30 in Germany.
Haye has long said he wanted a shot at a Klitschko, any Klitschko, and did a masterful job baiting them into agreeing to a fight, considering his rather thin resume as an ex cruiserweight champion. But he lit a fire under the cerebral pugilists when he held up posters showing himself holding the lopped-off heads of the brothers. Their mum wasn't amused, and many are hoping to see Wlad unload his ire on the mouthy Brit. TSS admits they don't care for Haye's brand of trash talk; he joked about putting a beating on his last foe, Audley Harrison, and promised it would be the equivalent of a "gang rape" scenario. He then refused to retract and apologize for his grotesque crack.
"This has been over a year," Steward said. "The flavor, the smoke, the aroma has been building. Same way Mike went crazy at that press conference, the build up..This fight has been two years of people wanting to see it."
Steward will be ultra busy in the weeks and months ahead. His guy Miguel Cotto will take on Ricardo Mayorga on March 12th in Vegas, so Steward will run a camp full of all-stars, including Wlad, Cotto, Andy Lee (who'll fight in New York/MSG on a Sergio Martinez-Sergiy Dzinziruk undercard on March 12) and Tyson Fury (Lee's cousin) all coming in to a gym to whittle down and get into fighting form. That camp will be in a Hollywood gym, as yet not chosen, Steward said. Next week, publicity cranks up for Cotto-Mayorga, a match which Steward says he looks forward to, and which should precede a Cotto-Margarito rematch, which could well go down in June in NY. Chad Dawson, a new addition to the Kronk cadre, might well join that camp of all-stars as well.
Then, a few hours later, Team Haye sent out a release that looks like it is laying the groundwork for an exit strategy:
WBA Champion Haye Warns He's 'Done' With The Klitschkos Following Latest U-Turn
January 5, 2011 - WBA world heavyweight champion David 'The Hayemaker' Haye has brandished rival titleholder Wladimir Klitschko a 'coward', following the Ukrainian's decision not to unify the belts in a 2011 showdown.
A bout between IBF and WBO kingpin Klitschko and Haye appeared close to completion earlier this week, but Wladimir instead decided to announce an April 30 defence against Britain's Dereck Chisora on Wednesday.
"We agreed to a date of July 2nd and a venue in Germany with both Sky Sports and RTL and everybody appeared happy with the deal," said a bemused Haye. "We made a few concessions to remove past stumbling blocks and were happy to do so, as it finally looked like the fight would get made.
"Even through negotiations, though, it was clear Wladimir was uneasy about taking the fight. He would often come up with new obstacles and problems to overcome, and I never sensed he fancied the fight.
"He refused to come to England, wanted to pick his own gloves, enter the ring second, box out of the red corner and demanded a German doctor. He also wanted his name to feature first on any promotional material ahead of the event. We bowed to each and every one of his demands. I didn't want to potentially jeopardise anything this time around."
With everything in place for a Haye bout, Klitschko nevertheless settled for Chisora, the unproven British champion. Still adamant the unification clash will happen, Klitschko informed Haye that he plans to deal with both Britons in 2011.
"It should never have come to this," said Haye, 25-1 (23 KO). "I was available to fight in May and June, and yet Klitschko only gave me dates of April 30 and July 2. The April date would be too close to Amir Khan's next fight, and would prove problematic with Sky Box Office, so we settled for July.
"Klitschko claims he'll fight both Chisora and I, but it's nonsense. Are we expected to believe that a fighter that competed only once in the whole of 2009 and twice in 2010 is now going to box twice in a matter of nine weeks? A bout with me is the most lucrative, meaningful and dangerous fight Wladimir's ever had, not some throwaway tune-up. Wladimir won't fight anybody nine weeks after Chisora, let alone me.
"I now need to look for a fight of my own beyond April, as Amir Khan has that month tied up with his bout. Presumably Wladimir is expecting me to fight in either May or June and then face him in early July. It's ridiculous."
This latest twist in the Haye-Klitschko saga has angered the Brit more than any other and, as he now looks for a title challenger of his own, the WBA champion is resigned to never getting the fight he so desperately wants.
"They demanded 50:50 right from the start and we eventually agreed and gave them all they wanted, despite the fact that our side brought three times as much money to the overall pot," recalled Haye.
"We had venues available for May and June, yet Wladimir had no intention of ever coming to England. Unfortunately, he had no venues available in Germany for May and June and that's why we find ourselves in the situation we're in right now."
Haye added: "If the fight doesn't happen now, it never will. I'm done with the Klitschkos. I know I can retire later this year with my head held high, knowing I did everything in my power to make these fights happen. I've had defining fights and beaten the best in the world as a cruiserweight, but, without me, Wladimir can never say he's done the same as a heavyweight."
Thoughts, TSS Universe? Do you give Haye a chance? Or will the fight be over before it starts, with Haye soiling his trunks at the thought of a pissed off Klitschko raining one-twos on him? Or before that...will it EVER get out of the negotiation stage?
Who wins the WBO Middleweight title fight Dec. 19th?