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Heavyweight grudge fight
David Haye vs. Wladimir Klitschko

By John J. Raspanti

After two years of delays and name-calling, WBA Heavyweight Champion David "Haymaker" Haye (25-1, 23 KOs) is finally ready to get it on with IBF-WBO Champion Wladimir "Dr Steel Hammer" Klitschko (55-3, 49 KOs) on July 2 in Hamburg, Germany in a fight that the moribund heavyweight division needs badly.
 
Haye's mouth has been working overtime. The WBA champion recently premièred a tee shirt that showed a punch of his decapitating Klitschko. Haye fancies himself as a modern "Ali", though his verbal onslaughts carry a little more edge than "The Greatest".  Klitschko seems genuinely perturbed by Haye's insults, especially when they're directed at his brother Vitali.


"Do I look angry?" asked Klitschko of Max Kellerman, host of HBO's Face Off.  
 
"Yes, you do," replied Haye:" You look wound up".
 
"Don't get scared," continued the 35 year-old Klltschko" Just keep doing your job. Unfortunately, David Haye doesn't have a quality to take a punch. It's going to be my number 50th knock out."
 
The thirty year-old Haye looked more bemused than scared. He hasn't lost a fight since 2004, when he was stopped by one  Carl Thompson. He blamed the loss on inexperience (11th pro fight) and conditioning. He bounced back by winning fourteen fights in succession. He first captured the cruiserweight title, and then defeated Russian giant Nikolai Vaulev for a portion of the heavyweight championship.
 
In 1998, journeymen Russ Puritty exposed Klitschko's chin by stopping him in eleven rounds. Five years later Corrie Sanders knocked him out in two. A little over a year later, Lamon Brewster flattened Klitschko. Since then he's hardly been pushed. With the help of Hall of Fame trainer Emmanuel Stewart, Klitschko has developed a style that allows him to use his sledgehammer like left jab, while keeping his suspect chin protected.  Haye is very aware of what Klitschko likes to do.
 
"If he comes out his usual defensive self than he's going to come unstuck real quick, " he replied. " I expect him to come out a lot more aggressive than usual."
 
Haye's whiskers are suspect too, veering more to china than cement. In his twenty-six professional fights, he's been knocked down four times. Klitschko mocked Haye's chin last August.
 
"I'm worried Harrison will knock him out," he said smiling.
 
It's easy to see why Klitschko is heavily favored to win. He's three inches taller and will likely outweigh Haye by thirty pounds. Haye is the more athletic of the two, though Klitshcko moves pretty well for such a big man. Klischko can still be robotic at times, and slow to adapt to changes inside the ring. One of Haye's goals will be to keep Klitschko guessing. Haye has the faster hands and feet. Klitschko's stamina has its limits, but it's more his resiliency in the face of defeat than his staying power.
 
Haye has plenty of power, having stopped John Ruiz and the durable Monte Barrett. His right hand packs some major TNT while his left hook is above average. However, Klitschko has a slight edge here. His jab is potent, while his powerful right knocks people out. Klitschko is good at what he does. He uses his advantage in height, reach and experience to wear his opponents down. He pumps that jab repeatedly. The big right will come, followed by the left. He keeps his guard near his weak point, the chin, and rarely exposes it.
 
Haye likes to start fast and see what happens.  He needs to get Klitschko out of his comfort zone. A jabbing contest will not win the fight for Haye. He's going to have to attack and that means taking chances. Haye has won the psychological war with Klitschko. His constant insults have gotten under the big man's skin. To win he needs an emotional Klitschko, one who throws more than two punches at a time, therby exposing his chin.  Of course this also means Haye's tinny chin will be there for the taking.
 
Trainer Freedie Roach had this to say about Klitschko.
 
"Being forced anywhere outside Wladimir's comfort zone is his greatest weakness", he said. "He does lack confidence as a fighter and we discussed it when I trained him."
 
As for the fight, Klischko will enter the ring a major favorite. (7-4 or 9-5) The Haymaker has to start fast and gain his respect. He knows he can't sit back and wait (like he did against Valuev). Klitschko will be stalking and jabbing, but perhaps with a little more intensity than usual. The big man wants a knockout. Haye is a very good counter-puncher and needs to land something early and hurt Klitschko. If he can rock the WBC champion, then an upset could be in the making. He needs to exploit any doubt Klitschko might have in his own abilities.
 
However, if Klitschko fights his usual fight, Haye will likely crumble.

It could come down to who wants it the most.

Leading online sportsbook 5Dimes lists Klitschko at odds of -210, just a tad over 2/1 while you can get +175 on the underdog Haye. The rounds over/under prop is listed at 9.5 rounds with the under getting the most play, moving the moneyline on that prop to 9.5 under -160.
 

 

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