David Haye claims he struck a significant psychological blow on Wladimir Klitschko after a fiery press conference in Hamburg, Germany, Monday, kick-started the final countdown to the pair's heavyweight unification clash this weekend.
Arriving 40 minutes late, wearing a T-shirt promoting his 'David Haye Knockout' iPhone game and having one of his team physically confront Klitschko’s trainer, Emanuel Steward, was a deliberate Haye ploy to rattle the Ukrainain before they collide at the 57,000-capacity Imtech Arena on Saturday.
And the lack of respect shown by Haye, the WBA beltholder, towards Klitschko, the IBF and WBO champion, who lives and fights out of Germany, appeared to have the desired effect.
“I’ve got what I wanted to get out of this news conference,“ said the 30-year-old south Londoner on Sky Sports News. “I am happy. His team is all unsettled. You could see the tension in all of his team. They were all flustered and they were all shook up. They didn’t know what to do. So it was good. I am happy where I am.”
The fact that Klitschko's brother, Vitali played such a prominent role in the latest round of verbal jousting between the warring heavyweights served only to improve the buoyant mood of Haye and his huge entourage.
Vitali Klitschko, the WBC holder, tried to publicly humiliate the brash British underdog by demanding he promise, in front of the world's media, to attend the post-fight press conference on Saturday, ‘to explain your defeat’.
But Haye, who had flown into Germany 24 hours earlier by private jet, was simply too quick and too mouthy to take the bait – and the joke backfired somewhat.
“Hell, yes, I will be there because I‘m coming after you next,” shouted Haye, whose dream is to unify the entire heavyweight division before retiring in October. “You just make sure you are there too – and not riding in the ambulance with your brother.”
That last remark, in particular, upset Wladimir Klitschko as he later responded by once again vowing to teach his opponent a lesson about respect when they get into the ring.
"Haye is making comments about doing damage to my health," said the 34-year-old RING champion. "This game is very intense and unfortunately there have been a lot of people who have been handicapped after fights or who have died.
"It's not something you should even talk about, promote yourself with or joke about. I actually felt embarrassed by the way Haye reacted at the press conference because it put a certain shadow over the sport.
"So I feel it is my obligation to give David Haye a reality check by knocking him out because it will really make him a better person.