By Paul Cotton
It’s that time again – both the Klitschkos are without opponents. Admittedly Vitali is potentially heading into retirement because of political duties but nevertheless they are both without fights. Enter the only threat to the Klitschkos, David Haye – or not.
Before we get into the reasons why David Haye is the right contender let’s consider other potential opponents. Alexander Povetkin is currently ranked the #3 heavyweight in the world behind the Klitschkos and is the holder of the ‘fake’ WBA Heavyweight title. He is coming off resounding wins over Hasim Rahman and Ruslan Chagaev as well as a hard fought closer victory over the notably smaller Marco Huck. Whilst Povetkin has a solid chin and fairly decent punching power it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that he is no match for either Klitschko; after being a punch bag for the Klitschko jab he will likely be knocked out in the mid to late rounds or possibly earlier. This prediction is echoed by the fact Povetkin’s own trainer Teddy Atlas has openly admitted his fighter isn’t ready for either Klitschko.
Another option is Tomasz Adamek who was knocked out by Vitali in the 10th round of September last year. Undoubtedly a warrior and coming off an impressive knockout win and two unanimous decisions since, albeit against average opposition, he possesses neither the power nor speed to make up the massive size differential he’s faced with.
Up and coming UK heavyweights David Price and Tyson Fury have also been mentioned but both have expressed reluctance to undertake the fights, at least in the immediate future. Whilst both have the size to match the Klitschkos neither currently have the opponents on their records, especially Fury, to strongly argue they could topple either Klitschko. I personally believe Price is the better fighter out the two as he has at least attempted to face reasonably decent opponents whereas Fury is still happy to fight the Firthas and Maddalones of the world. Also, Fury has tasted the canvas and therefore has a questionable chin; not a good trait when fighting a Klitschko!
David Haye is clearly a small heavyweight. However, unlike the aforementioned contenders possesses incredible power and amazing speed for a heavyweight. He is coming off a 5th round demolition of Chisora from July this year. Compare that with Vitali and Fury: Vitali holds a competitive unanimous decision over him whilst Fury also holds a unanimous decision over him but against a 40 pound overweight version of him. At the very least this is testament to David Haye’s finishing ability and does show a direct comparison between him and Vitali.
Critics would point to the fact Wladimir holds a fairly comfortable decision over Haye, unlike others though, despite what the media say, Haye was competitive as reflected in the punch stats as well as being shown on Wladimir’s face after the fight. Very few, if any, leave Wladimir Klitschko’s face looking like that after a fight. I would also point to the fact that since his last loss in 2004 he has won 17 fights in a row, 13 by KO, in which none, with the exception of the first fight with Peter, have been competitive. Nobody could argue Peter II, Chambers or Chagaev in their fights with Wladimir or Chisora, Briggs or Adamek in their fights with Vitali were more competitive than Haye was with Wladimir. Yet despite this a lot of them have received credit, maybe rightfully so, for their perseverance and determination on the night. On the other hand Haye despite visibly marking Wladimir, landing numerous punches and making Wladimir miss more than he normally does, received nothing but criticism for his performance.
The lack of quality in other potential contenders combined with Haye’s attributes and his latest victory make him clearly THE biggest threat to a Klitschko right now. Without a doubt he is the most likely fighter to be able to inflict a loss on either. With the lack of challenges and the huge sums they would make by fighting Haye in comparison to anyone else you’d have thought the Klitschkos would be jumping at the chance to face Haye. Maybe they realise (especially Wladimir) that he might just be more than a threat. If the Klitschkos are the champions they claim to be we’ll seeing Klitschko Haye sooner than later… don’t hold your breathe.
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