Wladimir Klitschko: The king of the heavyweights continued his long and impressive run through the division on Saturday night in Germany without much resistance from the third best big man in the world, David Haye. The talented but undersized Briton joined many other frustrated opponents who simply couldn’t cope with Klitschko’s reach and boxing ability. Of course, that doesn’t mean his performance was pleasing. Some fans are OK with tactical victories. However, those who expect their fighters to take great risks in the ring seem to have been disappointed once again by Klitschko’s safety-first style, which often makes for boring fights. And that’s probably OK with him. He’ll continue to win fights doing it his way and make many many more millions in the process for years to come.
David Haye: Haye in effect kicked off the promotion for the fight two years ago, when he wore the infamous T-shirt that depicted him holding the severed heads of the Klitschko brothers before their original fight was canceled. He didn’t shut his mouth from that point forward, which should be applauded in one sense because he did a yeoman’s job selling the fight. However, when you talk that much, you’re expected to back it up. Haye failed miserably to do so, slipping from the guy who might have what it takes to topple a Klitschko to just another notch on the champion’s belt. What now? Haye has options. A second tier of heavyweights – Haye, Adamek (who will lose to Vitali Klitschko) and Arreola – would make for some interesting matches. Haye will never be special but he can remain busy.
Klitschko-Haye: We had such high hopes. We thought the genuine disdain the fighters had for one another, particularly from Klitschko’s side, more or less guaranteed at least some fireworks after the opening bell. Turns out the only fireworks took place in the stadium during the introductions. Haye was effective defensively but, unable to get close to Klitschko, threw relatively few punches and landed only a handful. That silenced the spirited chanting of many British fans in the stadium, one of the few bright elements to a dismal evening. And Klitschko is Klitschko. He’s a fighter who generally will knock out his opponents only if he is able to systematically break them down, which he wasn’t able to do on Saturday. We were left with a dull fight almost completely devoid of drama, which was profoundly disappointing given the expectations.
Broken-toe excuse: Haye was gracious enough to give Klitschko credit for his convincing victory, applauding the better fighter’s game plan and ability to execute it. Then, after saying that he hates when fighters make excuses, he made one. He said the principal reason he lost was because he fought with a broken little toe on his right foot, which prevented him from properly pushing off the foot to throw his vaunted right. He went so far as to show the toe members of the media, who still weren’t convinced because the toe was taped. The only result of the broken-toe excuse was to make a bad night even worse. Haye made the decision to fight regardless of any injuries. He lost, Klitschko won. The thing to do is to give credit where credit is due and leave it at that.
WORST DEFINING FIGHT
Klitschko-Haye: This was supposed to be the victory that would define the career of Klitschko, who has never faced an opponent with whom one could associate the word “great.” Haye was an excellent cruiserweight and showed signs of becoming a formidable heavyweight. The problem is that our assumptions about Haye appear to have been wrong. The fighter who was dominated by Klitschko wasn’t special in any way, except perhaps his ability to avoid telling blows. Thus, it’s difficult to view Klitschko’s victory as special. It was just another drubbing of a small heavyweight who had almost no chance to win. That’s a poor excuse for a defining fight. Klitschko’s first fight with Sam Peter – during which he got up from three knockdowns to win – probably is a better choice for his defining fight even if Peter is hardly a great heavyweight.
WORST IDEA II
Open-air stadium: It made perfect sense to stage the Klitschko-Haye fight in Germany, where the Klitschko brothers have a large following. And Hamburg was the perfect city to host it because it’s the Klitschkos' adopted hometown. But an open-air stadium in one of the wettest cities in the region? Argh. The fighters were protected by a canopy and the fans in the stands were kept dry by an overhang. However, those on the floor of the Imtech Arena were exposed to the heavens, which dropped rain on them throughout the night. The fight organizers obviously were optimistic about the weather, which anyone can appreciate. But it was too much of a gamble. Rain and boxing don’t mix.
What’s next for Klitschko?: Klitschko joked after the fight that he might have to call out Manny Pacquiao as he contemplates who he might fight next. The reality isn’t amusing, though. Who will he fight? The highest-rated heavyweight other than his brother and Tomasz Adamek (who will meet in the fall) he hasn’t fought is Alexander Povetkin, THE RING’s No. 4 heavyweight. Too small. Then there’s No. 7 Alexander Dimitrenko, who is tall but too limited. No. 8 Denis Boystov is intriguing but also too small. There is No. 9 Robert Helenius. And finally there is No. 10 Chris Arreola, who already fell short against Vitali Klitschko. My favorite? Helenius. The Finn appears to be limited in terms of his boxing ability but he is the same height and weight as Klitschko and can crack. Stay tuned.
Klitschko against Haye: Klitschko apparently will never forgive Haye for the severed-heads T-shirt, which he found profoundly insulting. The winner praised Haye for his ability to survive but also got in some final digs at the post-fight news conference. “You were supposed to be aggressive,” he said as Haye sat a few meters to his left. “You were supposed to be active, supposed to knock me out. You chose the same strategy (as Sultan Ibragimov). You were very cautious, very careful. I haven’t seen anything impressive about the style you have.” He later said Haye doesn’t belong among elite, full-sized heavyweights. “He could have continued success against certain heavyweights. At the highest level, it will be difficult for him to challenge the true heavyweights.” Ouch.
Vitali Klitschko-Tomasz Adamek: Will this matchup on Sept. 10 in Wroclaw, Poland, be any better than Kllitschko-Haye? The guess here is that it will be. One can argue that the elder Klitschko has been more-dominating than his brother, rarely losing even a round in his entire career. However, he’s not quite the athlete Wladimir is, which probably will allow Adamek to land more punches than Haye. He’ll be 40 when the fight takes place. And the fact the fight will take place in Adamek’s home country will give him extra motivation. The RING’s No. 3-rated heavyweight has the ability, experience and courage to make things relatively interesting. Alas, the result will be the same. Klitschko is a tough, talented super heavyweight and Adamek is a tough, talented blown-up cruiserweight. That will be too much to overcome.
Wladimir Klitschko: “David Haye, I hate you but I love you because you gave me great motivation too.”