By Johnny Walker
World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko had a nasty surprise waiting for him in his hometown of Hamburg, Germany, today as he arrived at the weigh-in for tomorrow’s fight with WBA heavyweight champ David Haye of England.
As they are known to do and have become expert at, UK fight fans infiltrated and took over the weigh-in, and gave Haye vocal support that made it sound like the event was taking place in London, rather than Hamburg.
Haye was all smiles and grins as, after an introduction from Michael Buffer, he climbed on the scales and weighed in at a lean and muscular 213 pounds, as the crowd chanted soccer-style anthems at the Englishman.
Photo credit ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
Then, with Buffer’s introduction being drowned out by booing and curses, Wladimir Klitschko walked into a very hostile environment in his own city. Where were his German fans?
(This reporter, having witnessed the English “yobs” [think “soccer hooligans”] do much the same act during a bout featuring the Brit, Amir Khan, against Paulie Malignaggi in the latter fighter’s hometown of New York City, was not surprised to see this happen again today. Hopefully the German security forces at the Haye-Klitschko fight will be on the alert, because when this bunch gets going, violence is never too far behind. At the Malignaggi fight, there was often more fight action in the audience than there was in the ring).
For his part, if the hostile reception fazed Klitschko, he didn’t show it. Smiling as the chanting grew louder, he climbed the scales and weighed in at 243 pounds of muscle, four pounds lighter than he was for his last bout against Sam Peter.
The stare-down was particularly intense, as Klitschko unblinkingly fixed Haye with a cold, deathly stare, while Haye grinned and heaped verbal scorn, derision and curses on the Ukrainian champion. Neither man wanted to turn away, and were finally separated by their respective camps.
After the stare-down, Klitschko calmly looked over the gloves for the fight, while Haye took to the Sky Sports airwaves for an interview in which he sounded manic, almost over-amped, about the upcoming fight, talking a mile-a-minute.
One can say many things about David Haye, but no one can accuse him of not doing everything he could to promote this fight and put the heavyweight division back on the front of the sports pages. And in that, he has succeeded.
While some critics like to deride the Klitschko brothers as “boring” people, that has never been the case. The Klitschkos are both interesting men and they both have strong, distinct personalities. But they have had a few boring opponents, like Eddie Chambers and Kevin Johnson, who might be fine people, but who have brought nothing to the table in terms of creating interest for a fight by creating a contrast with the Klitschkos.
Photo credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
David Haye has done his job in that area very well indeed.
The talking, however, is just about over. It will soon be time to fight.