Now that it looks as though IBF/WBO heavyweight title holder Wladimir Klitschko 55-3 (49) and WBA title holder David Haye 25-1 (23) are finally going to fight, some writers and pundits are proclaiming that the fight is what boxing needs to shine. And that it's about time there's some interest in the heavyweight division. Some even view a potential Klitschko-Haye showdown as being perhaps the most significant heavyweight fight since former champ Lennox Lewis stopped Vitali Klitschko almost eight years ago. I guess that's a fair point. However, both Lennox and Vitali had been training for different opponents when they were suddenly matched up. So it's not like there was a whole lot of drama and build up leading to the bout before hand.
I certainly do agree it's a welcome change that there's finally a fight in the heavyweight division that even the casual observers are aware of and care about. But as far as this being a fight that will reflect well on the current state of professional boxing or the heavyweight division, I'm not so sure. Do those who are lauding the merits of a Klitschko-Haye bout even fathom that the fight has the potential to be a 12-round snooze fest? Because it certainly does.
Think about it, in Klitschko and Haye you have two powerful heavyweights who posses big right hands who have both been knocked out in high profile bouts. There's a better than 50 percent chance that Wladimir will look to impose his jab and size advantage against Haye, and only open up if he's pressured by him. On the other hand, once Haye is in the ring with Klitschko and realizes his size and feels his strength, he just may revert back to the fight plan he employed against Nikolay Valuev. In other words move and feint like he's going to cut loose with something with bad intentions, but basically only extend his jab as he waits for the perfect opening or counter.
And as far as the heavyweight division being better for realizing Klitschko-Haye, I doubt it. There's three possible scenarios that'll likely unfold in this fight, and not one of them is one where it'll be a memorable one. One, Klitschko ices Haye with one or two shots within the first five rounds of the bout. To which everyone will say afterward that Haye was an over-fed cruiserweight with no chin. Two, Haye ices Klitschko with a big right hand somewhere in the midst of a dreadful fight, and then it'll be dismissed because Wladimir had already been stopped by Ross Purity, Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster. And three, the most plausible scenario is, the fight goes the distance because neither Wladimir or David had the gumption to take a chance as both fought measured and with great trepidation looking exclusively to avoid being tagged with something big and getting knocked out.
If one of the three scenarios above plays out, the heavyweight division will be excoriated by the media. It will be said that Klitschko-Haye was more the case of one fighter who can't fight, that being Haye, and the other one who won't fight, Klitschko. But then again that's the perception of the heavyweight division today. In fact the only way Klitschko-Haye gets big props afterward is if the fight goes 7-10 rounds and it's a give and take knockdown drag-out war, with both fighters showing toughness and fortitude until one of them emerges superior.
Here's what we can hope for: If Haye decides he's gun shy after seeing who he's really in with, Wladimir will, for the first time in his career, go in to take him out. Haye could get away with all kinds of stalling and not fighting against Valuev (and, even so, barely won). He won't have those luxuries with Klitschko, who I think genuinely doesn't like him. On the other hand, if Haye gets lucky early, he'll throw caution to the wind. If this is how the fight unfolds, I guess that's the best we could hope for.
Now that I've denigrated the hopefully upcoming Klitschko-Haye bout, let me conclude that when all is said and done, the fight has to be embraced. There's no question that Wladimir and David are two of the top three or four heavyweight fighters/boxers in the world. And anytime boxing can get the best heavyweights in the world together with the title on the line, it's a good thing. It's just that getting your hopes up into thinking the fight will be Foreman-Lyle or Moorer-Cooper could lead to you ending up very disappointed when it's over.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com