• Steve Bunce

Haye's vicious streak will floor Wlad

Steve Bunce June 28, 2011

The big dilemma in the David Haye-Wladimir Klitschko fight is whether David goes hell for leather, knowing that if he catches Klitschko high on the body, he will drop him - or whether he decides to box sensibly, like he did against Nikolai Valuev, in the hope Klitschko fights in the same clueless way that Valuev did.

We know Klitschko is better than Valuev, and we also know David can be more aggressive than he was against Valuev, so I think he's going to have to mix the two styles.

He needs to stay out of range of Klitschko's jab at all costs - but when he does get close then Wladimir won't do anything in a clinch, so don't be at all surprised if Haye smacks him with his shoulder or elbow. It's not going to be tickly in there - it's going to be nasty and vicious.

I think Haye's worked on upper-body strength so that he doesn't get manhandled up close. Don't be at all surprised if this is ugly, and don't be at all surprised if it's nasty, with heads and shoulders going in. The Klitschkos are extremely naive, and David isn't.

If the fight gets rough, Wladimir won't be able to handle it. He controls from the back foot, tenderising opponents for a few rounds so he can drop them later on - and, arguably, he does it better than any heavyweight in history. What he doesn't want is someone giving him a hard time from close range.

So in addition to trying to crack the Klitschkos with a good shot, you've got to rough them up. Who's ever tried to rough them up? Lennox Lewis, that's who, and Vitali lost his mind.

Think of it as a sprint - if this were a 100 metres dash, Haye would lose it by ten. So, in the ring, he's got to do something else, perhaps by using tactics designed to unsettle Klitschko.

And we know his mind-games have already had an effect, because Klitschko's trainer Manny Steward admitted as much. David's said some vicious things, but there's nothing wrong with that, it's all part of the business.

Don't be fooled into thinking that Haye's brash language is all bluster to cover up nervousness. I spoke to him and Adam Booth, his trainer, last week and they were as relaxed and as calculated as they look and sound.

They were comfortable enough to stop the sparring a couple of weeks before the fight, and I have no problem with that. There are some fighters who spar up until the day, while some hardly spar at all. Nigel Benn sometimes sparred 15 rounds in the entire build-up to a fight, with only three of them serious.

Haye has succeeded in getting under Wladimir Kiltschko's skin © Getty Images
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Haye managed his sparring shrewdly, bringing in Olympic medallist David Price to mimic Klitschko, which is just what he needed to do in order to learn the Ukrainian's style.

When the weigh-in comes on Friday, I can't see Haye being any heavier than he was against Audley Harrison - but he will definitely be faster in the ring. Everyone knows this one will be decided by speed, and particularly how fast Haye can be on the night.

If he wins - and I think he will, in memorable, and perhaps controversial, style - I'd like David to have one more fight before retiring. Let him have a good homecoming, let him fight who he wants. Although ideally I'd like to see him back in Germany, fighting Vitali.

That said, I think a defeated Haye has more chance of being forced into the ring against Vitali.

Twelfth Round

Macklin unlucky
I thought Matthew Macklin won by two or three rounds in his WBA middleweight title fight with Felix Sturm in Germany on Saturday - but Sturm was fantastic in the way he came back at the end. Let's hope Sturm keeps to his word and gives him the rematch.

Brook boxes clever
Although all the talk before the fight was about whether Kell Brook could stop Lovemore N'dou, I was more impressed he didn't stop him, because he didn't forget to box for one second of the fight. He boxed brilliantly, and he learned more in that 12-round fight than he had done in his career to date.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.