Thursday, 30 June 2011

Actions speak louder than words

Straying away from my usual topic, the biggest fight in recent memory approaches on Saturday as David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye takes on Wladimir ‘Dr Steelhammer’ Klitschko. Not since Lennox Lewis fought Vitali Klitschko has there been as much anticipation in what has become a stagnant heavyweight division as the two men try to unify the division.
Heavyweight boxing has been a let-down for boxing fans in recent years with big punching brawls swapped for boring jab-fests, or less than that should ‘Fraudley’ be involved. In previous decades the sight of two heavyweights entering the ring was a mouth-watering prospect with a knockout firmly on the cards in every fight. However the modern day style of jab, jab, grab, as Haye likes to call it, has left a disillusioned boxing contingent see the Klitschko brothers sit at the head of the heavyweight dinner table. However in 2008 Haye arrived and, much like an annoying little brother, began to force his way nearer the top knocking everything over on his way including his appetisers Monte Barrett, John Ruiz, Nikolay Valuev and the aforementioned Audley Harrison.
The undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world Haye has certainly earned his corn in the boxing world. With a professional record of 25 wins to 1 loss he has fast tracked his way to the top with speed and power being his two main weapons. Haye’s mouth is also a big influence in his career as he seems to talk his way into fights. The way he goes about his business is rather uncouth and not the traditional way of going about things but it is very, very effective. He has a superb chance to knock over the challenge ahead of him as he has all the key skills to deal with the contest. However will his chin survive against a powerful puncher remains to be seen. One thing is for sure though, Haye produces exciting fights and one moment of explosion can change the course of the fight. If he can get his tactics right and release his big shots at the right time we may see the 6 foot 5 inch figure tumbling to the floor. The bigger they are...
Haye comes into the fight with publicity again at an all time high due to his belief he is a modern day Ali when it comes to the out of ring trash talk. He has certainly rattled the Ukrainian ‘robot’ which was clearer no more so than in HBO’s 1 on 1 special with the two fighters, achieving his aim of getting the three belt champion out of his comfort zone. While he has nothing like the lyrical qualities of the great man, see ‘more one-sided than a gang rape’, the cocky Englishman is exactly what this division needed. Britain and America had fallen out of love with the heavyweights to an extent; with the more exciting, fast hands of a Mayweather or Pacquiao dominating the mindset. However as Haye steps up to devour his main course, he has sparked new life into the division when it needed it most and it makes for a thrilling prospect on Saturday night.
Klitschko is an interesting character as he seems to be playing the nice guy card at every opportunity in the media. As Haye commented “He’s like a contestant on Miss World when they come in and talk about world peace. He doesn’t seem to realise we’re getting in the ring to punch someone in the face and to try to knock them unconscious”. The repeated attempt to shake Haye’s hand and appearances on television shows seem to say he wants the crowd on his side. This may show a slight fear which he hasn’t felt before in his time as champion. Even his legendary trainer Emanuel Steward says he is wary of Haye, acknowledging that his charge hasn’t faced anyone like him in the previous 5 years and his fight with Samuel Peter. The fast punching Haye is a challenge that the champion hasn’t been face to face with for a significant number of fights i.e. not being an overweight bum that is there solely for the pay cheque.
However the youngest of the Klitschko brothers should not be underestimated and it seems he may be. Despite being a favourite with the bookmakers, and as a regular pools man they are rarely wrong, all the ‘experts’ and media are geared towards a Hayemaker win. Let’s not forget that this man holds the IBF, IBO, WBO and The Ring championship belts and he hasn’t got their by luck. A hugely experienced fighter with 58 fights he may be the leading light in how to jab your opponent into submission but there is no denying his style is hugely effective. Due to the sheer height of the man, leaning on the other fighter can sap a lot of their strength and leave them vulnerable to attack. The powerful right hand possessed by the Ukrainian has also been underrated in the media before this fight and he is very much capable, with 49 KO’s on his record, of knocking down a fighter who has been on the canvas at cruiserweight level. Haye has yet to be in the ring with a real heavyweight puncher after fighting men who were not anywhere the ability of Wladimir. That first shot to the chin will be crucial and if any weakness is sensed then Klitschko could make short work of Haye.
Overall it lines up to be a cracking fight and in all honesty it could go either way. This is Haye’s first proper test at heavyweight level and all the talking will stop in a matter of days. Once that first bell sounds Haye is in the lion’s den and we will see if he can back up all the talk and deliver that knockout punch.
If Haye can finish his main course in Wladimir, then dessert will come in the form of Vitaly as he fights to regain the family honour. It could come to pass that Haye will be atop the table at his retirement/31st birthday party unbuckling his belt and letting out an unceremonious burp as his hands have backed up his mouth.
Prediction: Haye in 4 or Wladimir in 8

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