Harry Pratt

Klitschko winning war of words; Haye is focused on fight

LONDON — David Haye admits he is no match for Wladimir Klitschko. Not outside the ring, at least.

But the British heavyweight star insists he could not care less that he has been tongue-tied into knots by the wise-cracking Ukrainian during two days of hype for their July 2 title-unification fight in Hamburg, Germany.

It’s only words, after all, and while pre-fight verbal warfare makes excellent entertainment, it has no bearing on what happens when the pair exchanged punches.

That’s the way WBA titleholder Haye wants us to view this week’s events  — in Germany on Monday and England Tuesday — after he definitely came out second best in his press-conference double header with Klitschko.

Yes, he has been off-form and off-hand. But that, according to Haye, is down to the fact he would prefer to be back at his south London gym preparing for battle and the task of dumping the IBF and WBO holder in his own adopted backyard later this summer.

“A lot of you thought I was a bit subdued (on Monday), that I just said a few words and sat down, with no stunts, “ said Haye, 30, before a packed room of media at the Riverside Plaza Hotel. “Well, the reason for that is, whereas in the past I’ve always been thinking about what to say before my fights, this time I just want to train and be focusing 100 per cent on beating him as conclusively and explosively as possible.

“Most of my energy is going on thinking about destroying him rather than thinking about something clever to say. It’s unlike me to do that. But I’m happy about it. Wladimir has been solely responsible for killing the heavyweight division. He turns fans off it. He tries to come up with jokes, like the one yesterday about my Twitter page, but his personality is just like his fights — boring and robotic. He needs to be eradicated from the heavyweight division.

“He thinks he can bully me and control me but he can’t. That’s why when he tells me to do this, sit here, go there, I am not listening to him.”

All rather tame, especially compared with the 20-minute speech that followed from Klitschko, which, though full of repetitive over-the-top taunts, also contained the occasional below-the-belt shot.

“David, I’ve been reading your Hayemaker magazine. I think it would sell better if you changed the H to a G,” boomed Klitschko, much to the horror of Sky Sports, which was live on air at the time.

“I understand you are focusing on your fight, but your speech was a little bit weak. I was expecting you to do more because you want to be an actor in Hollywood and that takes a little bit more to get over there. But you have to focus on your sport, I know."

Then came the real killer punchline, with Klitschko promising his older brother, Vitali, a doctor in sports science as well as the current WBC world champion, would be willing to counsel Haye before or after the unification showdown.

“There is a lot of pressure on David, but if he can’t handle it, he knows Vitali, who is a doctor, is always there to take care of him,” quipped Wladimir. “And he’ll do it for free.”

Talk is cheap? Haye and his fans will be banking on it.

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