First of all, this is absolutely fantastic news for the sport, that Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye have both signed the contracts and will settle their differences in the ring this summer, in what will be the most intriguing and alluring heavyweight title fight since Lewis vs. Tyson in 2002.
I was doubtful it would happen because Haye seemed reluctant, to put it mildly. I told this to Wladimir himself about a month ago, but to my surprise, he still seemed very confident that he had Haye cornered and that eventually Haye would step up. Now that it’s signed I think it’s all a credit to the total public and media pressure Wlad applied on Haye to make the fight. Haye was forced into this by Wladimir and, I suspect, figures, okay, what the heck, the payoff is huge (could be well over $10 million or maybe even $20 million-plus for each). Let me give this a shot, thinks Haye, maybe I can land a crazy shot – or box to survive and bluff my way through 12 rounds and lose on points, at the very worst.
Monte Barrett told me Haye is very smart and very sneaky, in their fight he used an unexpected strategy of boxing low and not using his height. Barrett was stopped by Haye inside the distance.
You have to respect Haye and the color and charisma he brings to the sport but I’m going 1000% with Klitschko here. Klitschko will destroy Haye. It will be similar to Lewis-Tyson – if you remember, Tyson didn’t want the fight and delayed it for years, but finally got forced into it. Like Tyson, with all his tough talk and shenanigans, Haye pretended to want the fight, but eventually his lies and cover-ups were exposed, and then Haye got forced into it. Believe this: Haye knows how good Wlad is, despite his words to the contrary.
And Haye, deep down, knows Klitschko owns him pyschologically. Klitschko won’t forget about the supposed hand and back injuries or the faked negotiations. Haye showed reluctance and hesitation. Whenever a fighter shows reluctance and hesitation to another, they most always lose…Burns-Johnson, Jones-Tarver, Holyfield-Lewis, Oscar-Hops, Cotto waiting a month to sign the Margarito contract.
Haye will try to cover up this by talking tough now and posturing to the TV cameras, but Klitschko is too smart to be fooled by smokescreens.
Some ring observers feel Haye has gotten into Klitschko’s head. He certainly tried to. But he failed. Haye’s original plan was intended to intimidate and bully Klitschko on those escalator steps, but not long after when Haye realized he failed, he became intimidated himself.
I think it’s fair to say Klitschko despises Haye. This is a good sign. This is something Wladimir needs, he has had too many fights where emotion and hostility were absent. Haye and his antics will inspire Klitschko to show his very best, most likely his signature, career defining performance.
But because humans are humans and prone to errors, there is also that chance that Haye’s psychological warfare tactics could trick and confuse Klitschko and perhaps knock him off his psychological rhythm, to the point he will make a costly error. After all, the fight date may have been determined to be happening when Haye wanted it to, two years after Klitschko desired. In a way, Haye could actually be in control, sort of. Similar to how Sugar Ray Leonard was in control of the long awaited showdown with Marvin Hagler, as it was the younger, smaller man who set all the terms in his favor and ultimately outsmarted the declining and aging Hagler in the end.
Whatever happens between Klitschko, who will be 35 this summer, and Haye, 30, it’s going to be fascinating for the world to study and follow. This is the fight we have all been waiting to see for years and years, the kind of event that makes boxing the best of all sports. I have the utmost respect for Klitschko as a man and champion, he is pure class, honorable, charitable, as good an ambassador as any sport can ask for. I also like Haye too, he has personality and antagonistic qualities which every sport needs. Haye is fantastic for boxing, now that he is backing up his words with actions and not ducking and dodging. Because nobody respects liars, cowards or frauds.
We will see. May the best man win. No matter who wins this clash of titans, the sport will be the big winner at the end of the night.
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