By Johnny Walker
So we finally found out last week that The Ring-recognized heavyweight champion of the world, Wladimir Klitschko, and WBA heavyweight kingpin, David Haye, have nailed down a date (July 2) and a location (Hamburg, Germany) for their long-awaited, much-delayed heavyweight unification showdown. As a big fan of the heavyweight division, I should be filled with excitement and anticipation, and yet … all I feel is numb.
Boxing fans have been victimized over the last few years by too little fighting between the top names and too much talking about business and contracts and reasons why this fighter or that fighter is or is not ducking another fighter. And talking about boxing is like dancing about architecture. It can be fun for awhile, but it doesn’t accomplish a whole lot, and ultimately it becomes counterproductive.
Take the Mayweather versus Pacquiao non-fight – please! I really don’t give a fig anymore if those two ever fight each other. The situation with “Pac-Man” and “Money” has been talked literally to death, and there is nothing left except for their respective fan clubs to repeat the same rancid arguments over and over again in a hellish rhetorical circle.
I’m almost as sick of the whole Klitschko-Haye situation. It feels unreal by this point in time, as if the announcement of a definite fight date and venue is just a black joke on heavyweight boxing fans, and that we will have the rug pulled out from under us again as soon as the fight date gets closer.
Even Wladimir Klitschko himself apparently feels the same way, telling ESPN.com, “it’s not matter of fact that David Haye will show up on July 2. But I hope he will. We will face each other a couple of times at press conferences and I am a little bit worried about it because he is putting so much pressure on himself. He’s consistently putting himself in a corner and now the action has to follow. Now he has to follow through with all the promises.”
Wlad has reason to be dubious. Haye has made a lot of promises he hasn’t kept since entering the heavyweight division (remember how he said he would never fight Audley Harrison?). And he’s already pulled out of fights with both Wlad and his brother Vitali, so who’s to say he won’t do it again?
Haye has been talking a non-stop stream of repetitive trash since this latest fight was signed, and that in itself creates a feeling of foreboding, as the last time he did this was prior to his fighting like a frightened rabbit against Russian giant Nikolai Valuev, earning a dubious majority decision for the WBA title. The amount of nervousness Haye feels before a match seems to be in direct parallel with how much he’s yapping to the press about his invincibility and his opponent’s foibles.
The recent rumors of trouble in Haye’s personal life only add to the feeling that the skittish Brit could take a powder on the fight with Wladimir at any time.
Meanwhile, Klitschko himself is not without guilt in this matter. Since last December, Wlad has twice pulled out of scheduled bouts with the UK’s Dereck Chisora with the excuse that he had an abdominal injury. While someone who was there has assured me that the injury was legit, it didn’t look too good when only days after the first cancellation, Wlad was seen out on the links, swinging a golf club in Florida. Then, after he had agreed to fight Chisora for the second time, the injury flared up again, just in time for Wlad to sign a mega-deal to fight David Haye instead. Again, the Klitschko camp insists this was all on the up and up, but that doesn’t change how it looked from the outside.
If for some reason Wlad can’t make the July 2 date with Haye, he has opened himself up to charges of being the ducker he has accused Haye of being.
This week, there will be press conferences to announce the latest chapter in the Klitschko-Haye saga, and there will no doubt be some fireworks, as these two men genuinely loathe each other. Perhaps that will help to re-ignite my interest in this fight, but the only real cure for my apathy will be when all the talking stops, and when I see Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye in the ring in Hamburg, and hear the bell ring to commence round one.