7-YEAR BITCH: WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO WHOOPS DAVID HAYE
BY PHILIP H. ANSELMO
Ok. By now most of us have seen the uber-anticipated heavyweight unification fight between now unified WBA/WBO/IBO/IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko and former WBA-strapsman David Haye. I will not go into round-by-round analysis, partly because it’s been done by now, but I’d still like to point out some personal observations.
Photo: ODD ANDEREN/AFP/Getty Images
Call me morbid, call me senile, but I thought David fought Wlad the best he possibly could have. The nonsense about him having a broken toe had absolutely no bearing on the outcome of this fight. I find it tough to swallow that he’d broken his toe 3-weeks prior and didn’t pull out of the biggest fight of his life (again) with all we’ve learned about Haye over the past 2-years. So I have no doubt we saw Haye at as near 100% as we ever will.
The fact is, Haye, like every challenger to Wlad’s throne, could not figure out the champion’s style. Klitschko’s use of distance and footwork were, and ARE a seldom-noticed attribute he’s been imploring since working with HOF trainer Emanuel Steward. Every time Haye lunged in, in attack mode, Wlad would negate his efforts with calm ease and the aforementioned distance. Most pundits and fans alike will point to Klitschko’s jab as his most potent weapon, but it’s his awareness and physical dexterity inside the ring that truly sets him apart from today’s heavyweights.
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
By utilizing his size, mixed with fantastic balance, Wlad made Haye, who admitted as much during the post-fight interview with Larry Merchant, psychologically inept to implore his pot-shotting gameplan. And it had to be extra-sapping for Haye when he’d actually land his right hand to no avail. Despite a few of his so-called “Hayemakers” finding their mark spuriously throughout the one-sided contest, Klitschko hardly flinched.
Sure, Wladimir left something in the ring as well: a conclusive knockout. He could have used the left-hook-off-the-jab more often. He could’ve thrown a bit more caution to the wind and thrown the right hand more. Heck, even his jab output could’ve been higher. But, much like his fight with former WBO champ Sultan Ibragimov; Wladimir has yet to solve the riddle of putting a super-defensive fighter away. Of all opponents, I thought (like the majority) that Wladimir would have found a way to finish the job in style, inside the 12-round distance. Instead, he simply beat Haye in a dominantly tactical fashion.
Truth be told, even if Wlad were to pursue the elusive KO in a more zealous way, Haye’s defensive style throughout would have made the chore tough still. But Wladimir won hands-down regardless.
It should be pointed out that of all things, it was Wlad who looked worse for wear after the fight. Haye’s face was virtually unmarked aside from a bruise on his forehead, while Wlad’s left cheek was swollen and dripping blood (I thought I saw a Haye head-butt). This is a telling point.
To me, it means Wlad did not land that clean of a shot for the most part. Yes, he landed some nice punches, but Haye took some steam off of them with very good head movement. Still, Haye must have felt Wlad’s power, and early, because his reluctance to commit told the story. And his constant flopping to the canvas was a story in itself. It spoke of a man already defeated, and acting every bit of it by trying to play games with referee Genaro Rodriguez instead of the opponent in front of him. The tactic worked when Wlad was docked a point mid-way through the contest, but backfired late in the fight, when the ref had seen enough of these antics out of the desperate Haye.
In truth, Wlad cuffed Haye’s head when spinning him during Haye’s offensive lunges. It is, and has been a tactic used by great champions of all eras since boxing became “The Sweet Science” and the ref should have recognized it (or not) as such. Subsequently, both calls against the fighters should have been ignored, except for perhaps Haye’s, which was a blatant commitment to stall.
Photo:ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
David Haye is a gifted athlete and a man who could possibly defeat 98% of today’s heavyweights. But not Wladimir Klitschko. Maybe not Vitali either, and right now I doubt anyone wants to even discuss Vitali entertaining a fight with the deposed Haye. I know I don’t.
It can be said that Haye bitched his way out of the fight the way he bitched his way into it. Instead of attacking as he promised, he ran. Instead of “making Wladimir fight out of his comfort zone”, he simply fell into place as just another guy; another notch on Wlad’s belt. For Wlad, KO aside, it was a mission accomplished. Haye is simply the latest on a growing list, who over the last 7-years, could not tactically hold his own with Wladimir Klitschko at all, period.