This is one in a series of monthly Q&As with boxing’s elite fighters and top personalities in the sport.
The heavyweight division may be moribund in the United States but that doesn’t mean it is on life support everywhere else in the world.
The heavyweight showdown between RING champ Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye will pack the 57,000-seat Imtech-Arena in Hamburg, Germany, this Saturday, July 2nd.
Klitschko’s world title defense against the brash British beltholder has made heavyweights relevant again. What gives this fight added sizzle is the genuine animosity between the two. It’s not contrived. One look into Klitschko’s charcoal-black eyes during his HBO Face Off interview with Haye and Max Kellerman could tell anyone that.
Fight fans want to see Klitschko in an exciting fight and this bout may fulfill those wishes. Haye (25-1, 23 knockouts) says he’s going to exploit Klitschko’s cautious style, and Klitschko (55-3, 49 KOs) would like to decapitate Haye in much in the same manner as one of Haye’s crude T-shirts depicted the two headless Klitschko brothers.
Slightly more than a week prior to stepping into the ring for arguably the biggest fight of his career, Klitschko spoke with Ring Magazine Managing Editor Joseph Santoliquito about his favorite subject of the moment — David Haye.
1. Wladimir, I watched you on the HBO Face Off with Haye and Max Kellerman, and you looked like you were ready to kill Haye. That’s the angriest I’ve ever seen you — and you rarely get angry if at all. What was going through your mind as you were looking straight at Haye?
Wladimir Klitschko: “I don‘t like Haye. He is a liar and you cannot trust him. For example, in the very beginning, he said he would get Chelsea stadium for a fight. But at the end, he delivered nothing and completely pulled out of the fight with me.”
2. Were you offended when Haye refused to shake your hand before and after the HBO interview, if so, why?
WK: “This was typical for Haye. He simply shows no respect. It is a normal behavior to shake hands with another person, but he always refuses to do so.”
3. After the HBO cameras were off, did Haye say anything to you or did he run out of the studio scared?
WK: “He just left the room. Actually, when we were in London in a TV show he did not want to come to the studio. He said he did not want to be in the same room with me. That was so ridiculous.”
4. You once told me in The Ring interview a year ago that “David Haye is a pussy!” Do you still feel the same way?
WK: “No further comment.”
5. Has any opponent ever angered you like this before?
WK: “Haye always steps over the line with what he does and says. Nobody wants to see his own and his brother’s heads cut off on a t-shirt. I am really looking forward to July 2 to teach him a lesson about right behavior.”
6. Haye says all you do is jab and grab. How do you reply to that?
WK: “Haye believes I am accidentally triple world heavyweight champion. In doing so he is offending all my former opponents. Again, Haye shows no respect. Not towards me, nor towards these fighters. He will experience and feel in the ring what it means to fight me.”
7. You’re at a stage where you’ve shown how superior you are to every heavyweight in the world today, but do you think you get the respect you deserve?
WK: “It is up to the people and boxing fans to give me the respect I deserve once I have finished my career. I personally do not think about my legacy.”
8. Did Haye awaken a sleeping giant? Will we see the best Wladimir Klitschko ever on 2nd July in Hamburg, Germany?
WK: “I always train and prepare with highest concentration and focus on my next opponent. To me it does not matter what his name is. I know that my best performance in the ring is still to come. On July 2, I will be in the best shape.”
9. I know you respect all of your opponents. What are your concerns about Haye? Are there any concerns about Haye?
WK: “Haye is fast and a very good puncher. It is going to be a tough fight. But I will be prepared and will definitely not underestimate him.”
10. What are you predicting for the final outcome of the Haye fight?
WK: “I will teach Haye a lesson on behavior and respect. I will enjoy it for 12 rounds and then knock him out. Haye will be No. 50 on my knockout list.”
Photos courtesy of Fightwireimages.com.