We are a scant 11 days away from what some have said is the most meaningful, most anticipated fight in the heavyweight division since Lennox Lewis took on the shell of Mike Tyson, on June 8, 2002 in Memphis. And I have to say, the lack of buzz surrounding the Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye fight leaves me downright bewildered.
Where is the hype? Where is the promotion? Who's banging the drums for this?
It's not like this one is a dud being foisted on the paying public. There is genuine animosity between these two hitters, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why there is a ho-hummmedness associated with Klitschko-Haye.
If you had told me, back in the spring of 2009, after we saw Haye (25-1 with 23 KOs; age 30) get hypodermic needle-deep under the Klitschko skin, when he wore a t-shirt with a rendering of himself holding the severed heads of the Brothers K, that when Haye and Wladimir (55-3 with 49 KOs; age 35) hooked up there'd be this little electricity, I'd have scoffed.
Off the top of my head, a couple reasons stand out to explain the buzz-less-ness.
1) The fight will run in the States on HBO. HBO pays their fee, they get the rights to show the fight, done deal. They would like a nice rating for the show but since there's no pay per view, there is no overly resonant reason for HBO to put their full-on marketing push into the clash.
2) Perhaps ticket sales are trending so well for the tussle at Imtech arena in Hamburg that the promoters, the Klitschko brothers' K2, and Haye's promotional arm, don't see a need to prime the pump. That's nice for them, but what about growing the sport?
3) This event needs and Arum or a King. You've all heard this before, most often from Arum himself, who decries the lack of promotional skills in this current generation of promoters. I have to agree with him; why haven't Klitschko and Haye done at least a mini tour in the US, of New York and California? If the guaranteed money is so immense that they don't need to, well, why not just do that because it's the right thing to do, for the future? Don't both men want the maximum number of eyeballs on them to see them do their thing?
Now, the ball has not been totally dropped. Max Kellerman again did a nice job on his "Face Off," which put Wlad and Haye in chairs two feet apart, and allowed fight fans to assess the two men's countenance a month away from their clash. The affair got off to a compelling start when Haye refused to play nice from the get go, as he refused to shake Wlad's hand.
"I sense genuine animosity between you to," Max said. "Why do you dislike David Haye?" Wlad said Haye talks too much, that he's a "wannabe."
"He talked himself into the fight," said Wlad, giving props, before he busted on Haye for pulling out of their planned June 20, 2009 fight.
Haye was asked why he hates Klitschko. "Clearly, he's a d---head," he answered.
Haye promised to knock Wlad out, as Wlad sat, seething, but maintaining a veneer of cool.
Haye was asked about being labeled a liar for pulling out with an injury and then not furnishing documentation. He said he thinks it gives Wlad comfort to believe he is scared.
Max said that this fight is the richest fight in boxing now, apart from Mayweather-Pacquiao, which bolsters my case, and heightens my puzzlement as to why we aren't hearing more about the fight.
Wlad said Haye crossed the line with his decapitated heads t-shirt, while Haye said he wanted both the brothers' heads, and that he will have them. Wlad didn't flinch an inch as he fastened his magnetized gaze on Haye. You have to think Manny Steward was liking Wlad's intensity.
Interestingly, Haye felt the need to comment on the mood. He couldn't simply stay fixed in that atmosphere, as he promised a stellar fight, said he could feel the tension, and that he thought Wlad might punch him then and there, and that he might need to duck.
Both men predicted a KO win. Wlad then said, "He needs to be taught how to behave himself and that's exactly what I'm going to do...I hope I will see him in person, in the ring on July second," a reference to a fear I harbor, that Haye will pull out with an injury, or an "injury."
To end the session, Haye again refused a handshake.
There's no good reason I know of the energy, the tension, the promise of controlled violence that was in that room hasn't been presented to more fight fans, semi fans and potential fans out and about.
Hey, K2, Hayemaker Promotions, there's still time...not to be flippant, but maybe y'all should call up Arum or King, and cut them in for a taste, and get a hand in promoting this fight in proper fashion in the home stretch.
SPEEDBAG The brown leather jacket Wlad was wearing in Face Off was I believe the selfsame one Richie Aprile took off Rocco DeMaio and then gave to Tony Soprano, the one Tony then gave to his cleaning lady's hubby.