Adam Booth, mastermind trainer behind David Haye’s rise up the heavyweight ladder, always knew Wladimir Klitschko was good – just not that good!
Having had 48 hours to take stock of Haye’s second defeat in 27 fights, by a huge unanimous points decision in Hamburg last Saturday, Booth admits the Ukrainian beltholder proved a far classier act than he ever imagined possible.
The confidence inisde the Haye camp upon their arrival Germany was not some façade. They genuinely felt they had a plan to dismantle RING champion Klitschko.
But that was before Booth witnessed the IBF, WBO and now WBA titleholder in action for six rounds, by which stage he realised Klitschko was just too quick, too smart and too strong for the man from England.
"The plan was to pressure Wladimir by going at him in waves, one after another,” Booth said. “To attack and then follow up with another one, because Wlad jumps back very far from the first attack. That was something we had identified.
"We thought he'd fall back with the first attack and then David was supposed to drive forward with the second one. But he just couldn’t get it off all night.
“Let’s make this clear, Wladimir fought out of his skin. You cannot underestimate that performance. That was the best Wladimir Klitschko ever. David just couldn’t get to him because he nullified our plan.
“Yes, I was disgusted with the referee and I think their side was disgusted with him as well. But when all is said and done, the referee didn’t make the difference. The toe didn’t make the difference. What made the difference was Wlad’s performance. “
What stunned Booth more than anything was the relentless manner with which Klitschko constantly pressed Haye backwards, refusing to give up the middle of the ring at any point in the bout.
“Wladimir has been pure grade A ever since he was an amateur,” Booth went on. “He won Olympic gold, so we knew about that side. And we knew how quick he was.
“It was how quickly and how far he could move backwards and, having moved backwards, it was how quickly he then became aggressive and assertive again, which was against his nature…up to that point.
“David did his best to land the punches but Wladimir dealt with that. He took David’s shots and instantly tried to regain and reassert his aggression. Wlad has never been that purposeful in previous fights.
“We knew Wlad would fight out of his skin, but it surprised me just how well he fought. It wasn’t as if David wasn’t trying to do what he had to. Just that Wladimir didn’t allow it.”
Booth’s vehement defence of Haye did not end there. He will not entertain the notion that his long-time friend from south London lacked the courage or bottle to take out a considerably larger opponent.
“There is a lot of criticism that he didn’t try hard enough,” Booth said. “I implore you to find someone that big and see how you get on. I am gutted but not disappointed. I am proud of David because he did everything he could.
“I was starting to feel confident in the third, fourth and fifth rounds because, though it had taken longer than expected, David was starting to get to Wlad. But in the sixth, Wlad threw a right hand that I thought ‘I’m so glad that missed’ because it was such a solid shot.
"Looking back, though, I now know that it landed as flush as it could have done. It would have knocked out most heavyweights. That right hand kind of shut down what David was trying to do. It made him feel exposed to danger.
“When you go over the top, fall short and feel exposed, it stops you going into that position so positively the next time. David planned to go for it whenever the moment came. Wladimir never gave him that moment.”
As for Haye’s apparent desire to delay his planned retirement in October, should Klitschko give him a re-match, Booth is understandably cautious.
“The only thing future I am interested in is going out for a drink with David tonight – to drown our sorrows,” he said. “If David says he wants to carry on, I’ll tell him, 'have another drink'.”