Maybe David Haye has this thing figured out. Maybe he knows the perfect words to heckle the one fighter who could define his career if he could find a way to beat him. And that won’t be easy.
It’s like Haye is tweaking a sleeping lion’s whiskers, giving its tail a nasty twist. He‘s daring it to wake up, get to it’s feet and take a swipe at him.
Sure, they might deny it over at the Klitschko camp. They’ll tell you it’s just the mouth that’s roaring, that no one is listening to the silly babble coming from that crazy Haye guy. He’s just trying to break into Wladimir’s head, cause him a little confusion, a sliver of doubt. Stifle some of that hidden swagger that Wladimir seldom reveals.
Among other insults, Haye, who was born in London, refers to Klitschko as bitchko and said the only time he’ll shake Klitschko’s hand is in when he visits him in the hospital after the fight.
Funny stuff, but it’s easy to understand where Haye gets his material. He’s had two years to work on his delivery. That‘s about how long it’s been since Haye first started pointing fingers at the Klitschkos, demanding satisfaction and then disappearing into the night. Along with t-shirts featuring the decapitated heads of the two brothers, he’s also predicted he’ll stop Wladimir in round 6 of Saturday’s fight at the Hamburg (Germany) Imtech Arena.
Who is this guy?
“(Haye) has made a name for himself through his mouth, not through his fights,” Wladimir recently told a German magazine. “He is a would-be heavyweight boxer who belongs in the cruiserweight division.“
Not exactly a scathing comeback by the Ukrainian. But no one worries about covering their kid’s ears when Wladimir goes on a verbal rampage.
And he has a point. He’s a big heavyweight. Haye, the WBA champ, is a smaller one. And an inexperienced one. His heavyweight career is only five fights old. It’s still just a baby. Most of his knockouts (23 in 25 wins) wins were against cruiserweights.
Klitschko, meanwhile, has had 58 fights against heavyweights and he’s won 49 of them by knockout. The WBO and IBF champ, he’ll be looking for number 50 on Saturday night.
Welcome to the jungle, Haye. The lion is awake.
Saturday’s title fight (HBO) from Hamburg is expected to draw a pretty good crowd to the 55,000-seat soccer stadium. Credit Haye with filling most of the seats. He’s like the bandit who rode his horse through a crowded school yard on his way out of town after robbing the bank and shooting the teller. Now they want to see him hang in the town square. Tickets are going fast. They want to see the bad guy swing.
On top of that, the Klitschkos are the most popular one-two combination to hit Germany since they started slathering sour kraut on brats. You don’t stomp on the reputation of local legends. You don’t call them names, cut their heads off on a t-shirt and you sure don’t thumb your nose in their general direction.
If nothing else, you figure Haye is having a good time with all this teasing. You almost expect him to give you a sly wink right after he points down and tells Wladimir his shoes are untied.
But when you get past all the name-calling, the taunting and the boasting, you have to come down to earth. Does Haye really have a chance of beating Klitschko?
Klitschko’s trainer, Manny Stewart, would probably tell you the Haye bad-mouthing appears to have rousted Wladimir, set him off a little. He says he’s never seen his heavyweight so “pumped up,“ for a fight.
Still, the goading continues.
For all of Haye’s badgering, he claims Wladimir just doesn’t have the right mindset to be a fighter. He’s just too nice a guy.
“To be a truly successful boxer, you have to be one with violence,“ Haye told the Daily Mail. “Mike Tyson, for instance. He was one with violence. It spilled over into his personal life, but in the ring, you need that tenacity to become great. Whether people like it or not, I must bring that to this fight.”
That and maybe a Louisville Slugger.
Maybe Wladimir doesn’t have that “necessary” violent streak that Haye says you need in the fight game in order to be great. But so far, he hasn’t needed it.
Maybe Wladimir was right when he said “there’s a nice guy in Haye trying to get out.”
Whoever that guy is, he better not show up Saturday night.
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?