As the countdown to Klitschko-Haye winds down, it's pretty much agreed upon in the boxing community that Wladimir Klitschko is at worst the second, and perhaps due to his youth compared to his older brother Vitali, the most formidable heavyweight boxer in the world. Former cruiserweight title holder David Haye 25-1 (23) is Wladimir's next opponent. Haye is 4-0 (3) since moving up to fight as a heavyweight.
And yet everyone, including myself, has been duped into talking about how Haye is such a monumental challenge and threat to Klitschko. Granted, Haye is a very skilled heavyweight, but to say he's the best fighter Wladimir Klitschko has ever been confronted by is a huge reach. The real question and debate should be: who has Haye fought that is anywhere close to the same stratosphere as Klitschko as a fighter and boxer?
Wlad has already beaten bigger fighters than Haye, fighters that are faster, more experienced, better boxers and bigger punchers than the cocky Brit as well. On that there can be no speculating whatsoever, none. Again - Wladimir Klitschko is clearly the most complete and dangerous heavyweight David Haye will have ever confronted during his career as a professional fighter.
Take a look: In his second bout fighting as a heavyweight, Haye won a decision over seven-foot Nikolay Valuev, 38, to capture the WBA title. However, what's gone virtually unmentioned since then is that in his previous fight before Haye, Valuev was more soundly out-boxed by the then 46 year old former champ, Evander Holyfield. Haye ran from Valuev the entire fight, but luckily for him Valuev is slow and can't punch a lick, because Haye would've never gone near him if he could.
Even the one time Haye shook Valuev, he didn't go after him. In his next fight Haye fought 38 year old former WBA title holder John Ruiz. Ruiz was shopworn and on a steep decline by the time Haye got him, and David still had to drop Ruiz five times before the fight was stopped. Shortly after the fight Ruiz retired from boxing. In his last bout, Haye stopped Audley Harrison, 38, in three rounds. Harrison, for the record, has not defeated one noteworthy fighter since turning pro in 2001.
In reality, Haye has only one win as a heavyweight that can be considered even remotely meaningful, and that was over Ruiz, who was not nearly the same fighter he was when he fought Evander Holyfield three times circa 2000-2001.
The truth of the matter is, Wladimir Klitschko is bigger, stronger, a better boxer and puncher than any fighter David Haye has ever fought or even sparred with. On top of that Klitschko is much more experienced and Haye's words and antics seem to have really gotten under Wladimir's skin. It's quite possible that Wladimir really despises Haye and it's not hard to envision how that will have a bearing on the fight, especially if Haye shows any hesitancy.
Wladimir has been most troubled by fighters who have gone at him. But it's doubtful that Haye will go right at Klitschko, even though he should because Klitschko isn't fast and it's worth the risk for him to try and impose his speed. Haye can't out-box Klitschko, he doesn't hit as hard and his chin is lousy.
Klitschko has two basic flaws, he doesn't have a sturdy chin and he's not the bravest fighter in the division. The chin will remain an issue, but I sense that Wladimir will be braver than a wounded grizzly bear when he faces Haye this weekend. Whereas some observers have mentioned that they sense Haye is nervous about fighting either brother, with good cause. And it's noticeable that since the fight has been signed, Haye has been very respectful of Klitschko compared to how he was before it was signed.
The burden of proof rests squarely on the shoulders of David Haye on July 2nd, 2011. There's nothing he can show Wladimir Klitschko that he hasn't already seen or hasn't already been tried against him before. Haye has to overcome size, experience, and power. Haye has one advantage, hand speed. But for that to be a factor in the fight, he has to be willing to go after Klitschko and let his hands go, something that will open him up and leave him more susceptible to Klitschko's big right hand. Sure, David Haye is capable of upsetting Wladimir Klitschko and ending the fight in a dramatic fashion. But until he does, Klitschko gets the benefit of every doubt. The next time David Haye steps into the ring, he'll be facing the biggest and best fighter he's ever confronted since he took up the sport of boxing. And for Klitschko, he'll be facing another fighter who he holds practically every advantage over, but who has a plan and strategy to defeat him.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com