Don't believe the markets, don't believe the naysayers - David Haye has got the tools to win his toughest fight yet and, if he uses them correctly, Wladimir Klitschko won't know what's hit him, says Alex Steedman.
Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now was a 1970's blockbuster four years in the making. Haye v Klitschko has similarly smouldered through the last two years but while the plot is somewhat more straightforward than its Hollywood predecessor, it looks sure to prove worth the Sky Box office expense as well as that wait.
With 74 KO wins between them, David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko will square off this Saturday in Germany as sworn enemies as well as the most dangerous and toughest opponent each has faced. Anyone who says that this fight is easy to predict is kidding themselves. There is no doubt that Klitschko holds most of the advantages both physically and in terms of experience, so he's certainly the percentage call at 1.6 but there is every reason to believe that this is a fight Haye 2.78 can win.
With seemingly impregnable physical advantages, including 3.5 inches in height as well as more than two stones in weight, Wladimir Klitschko won't be easy to get to. He is also an incredible athlete for a big man. Critics refer to the fragile chin which has seen him on the canvass some 11 times and knocked out for each of his three defeats. That is as true as alive is the memory of him toppling again and again, like a cumbersome, oversized child at the hands of the under-skilled Samuel Peter. But all of that happened six or more years ago and there is no doubt that Klitschko has developed a style that is monotonously effective.
There have, however, been a string of stoppages of late including nine of Klitschko's last 10 opponents. But those buying into the idea that Klitschko is going to turn into a raving, aggressive mad man because of his genuine dislike for Haye might be teasing themselves. The champion is what he is and I don't envisage that leopard changing his spots on the biggest night of his boxing life. Klitschko knows that if he sticks to the jab, grab and occasional right hand plan then he will hurt Haye in the long term. That is of course providing he can tag the Englishman.
Haye has never been the most elusive of fighters but he does have good speed and reflexes and those, along with tactics, will be crucial in this fight. To put it bluntly, Klitschko won't win if he can't land that excellent lead jab, so how to diffuse such a key and potent weapon? You can be certain that Haye's trainer and mentor Adam Booth will have thought of not much else for some time. David Haye's hopes rest largely in that plan.
As I see it, Haye moves pretty much as he did against Valuev and takes his opportunities when they come or he stays close to slip under the jab and replies with rapid and heavy counters. Both are risky. The first relies on interpretation ringside and as we saw last week with Matthew Macklin, away decisions in Germany are rare indeed. The latter approach obviously puts Haye in jeopardy of contact and being hit. I am certain of though that if Adam Booth devises the right tactics, Haye has the skill set and discipline to carry them out. As we saw against Valuev and when George Groves upset James DeGale, Booth is a master planner and both he and Haye believe they have the solution to a very big problem.
There is one other possibility which did cross my mind after a few late beers; Haye might just launch himself at Klitschko from the first bell. Think about it, it would be the last thing anyone expects. Crazy perhaps but Klitschko is horrible on the back foot and it would take away his key weapon while potentially inducing the terror which used to grip him as a lesser fighter in the dark days. And one thing I know, Haye is a fighter. Klitschko is a big guy who is athletic and can box but he's not a fighter. Remember the way Haye beckoned Carl Thompson in when facing the abyss all those years ago. As I told some suspicious German friends recently, Haye can fight and he likes it too.
The bottom line is this: Klitschko will do his thing and that is usually enough. Most seasoned observers tell me that the task facing Haye is simply too vast and that nine times out of ten Klitschko wins this fight on sheer size. I've always thought that Haye has the tools for this job though and that between them, Haye and Booth will devise a way of using those tools. I'm not clear in my mind how they will do that but I believe they can. If Haye pulls this thing off, they might just make a blockbuster about it in tinseltown one day.
Haye to win 1pt (0-10)
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