By John Lumpkin: David Haye made some big noise a few years back by claiming he could beat the Klitschkos and then he disappointed us all by backing out of deals for fights with both. As aggravating as that was for the fans, it was probably a smart move on Haye’s part. Two years later, Haye versus either Klitschko is still the fight fans want to see. So maybe there is truth to the idea that any press is good press.
Fighting a Klitschko is not a simple task. The brothers are well-trained, well-disciplined talented fighters with good technical mechanics who understand the fight game. The come to fights prepared and execute game plans very well. Both have crushing power and over the years they have become highly skilled at taking advantage of their superior size.
Haye’s run through the cruiserweight division was magnificent and exciting. His blistering speed and power was too much for his opponents, but there were moments where you wondered if Haye’s chin was good enough. None of the fighters he defeated at cruiserweight would likely be considered on par with either Klitschko in terms of talent and accomplishments. This means that for Haye, fighting a Klitschko means he would be taking both a step up in size and in class. It’s a tall order and an unlikely formula for success.
Haye’s foray into the heavyweight division has not been the most exciting, but there may be method to his madness. There is a big jump in the size of the men when you go from cruiserweight to heavyweight. It is about the equivalent of jumping two or three weight classes relative to other divisions, so taking on a fighter like Monte Barrett the first time out was a good measuring stick. It gave Haye a chance to see what it was like carrying an extra 17 pounds of weight fighting a legitimate heavyweight with some decent skills.
The fights with Nicolay Valuev and Audley Harrison gave Haye invaluable experience facing much taller opposition. It was important for him to fight these men so he could learn how to adjust his punches to reach the larger men. Fighting at heavyweight for Haye requires a different style than he was able to employ at cruiserweight. He cannot just go out an attack with abandon and hope to overwhelm his opposition like he did at the lower weight. He has to be mindful of what might be coming back and needs to understand his limitations. If he wants to beat a Klitschko, he has to know what he is going to be able to do and where the risks are.
It is time to graduate. Haye has taken on and beaten four rather decent heavyweights and hold a belt. At his level, we can reasonably expect that these four fights should give him enough information to formulate a game plan to fight a Klitschko. If he is really serious about becoming the heavyweight champion of the world, it is reasonable for us to expect him to make an honest effort to negotiate a deal to fight one of the Klitschko’s in 2011. It is time to put up or shut up.
November 26, 2010