Alan Dawson – London
The most significant match-up of the current boxing calendar is finally among us. After a lengthy period of stagnation, the focus is once again back on the heavyweight division as WBA heavyweight titlist David Haye attempts to unify his strap with Wladimir Klitschko‘s IBF/WBO/IBO and The Ring versions of the championship on Saturday, July 2 at the Imtech Arena, Hamburg, Germany.
Tale Of The Tape
|Height/Reach||6’7 / 81′||6’3 / 78′|
|Record||55-3-0, 49ko||25-1-0, 23ko|
Analysis – David Haye
- Circumventing the jab
- Upsetting Wladimir’s confidence
- Adam Booth
Emanuel Steward has been outspoken in his criticisms of his own fighter; Wladimir Klitschko. Since working the corner of the towering Ukrainian, who has ruled the heavyweight division without a loss for seven years, Steward has been trying to make his ward “think less” in the ring and take more chances like his former boxers Naseem Hamed and Thomas Hearns. To borrow a phrase from Haye, Klitschko boxes robotically: jab, jab, right cross. Jab, jab, jab. Jab, jab, right cross. Whilst it may not be the most aesthetically-pleasing style for those who like to see volume-punchers like Manny Pacquiao across the weight classes, it does not make it any less effective a fight method, and one need not look further than Wladimir’s knockout percentage (85 percent) to see how forceful a one-two combination it can be.
Haye, therefore, will need to circumvent Wlad’s jab and negate his right cross if he is going to avoid becoming Klitschko’s 50th knockout victim. The Briton’s defence is under-rated. While critics point to his questionable chin, the brash-talking Londoner is frustratingly hard to pin down and hit. Haye is a markedly different fighter at heavyweight than he was at cruiserweight. At the 200lb weight limit his punch output was strong and he was known for his aggressiveness, however, since moving up to boxing’s premier division his activity has decreased. While he has been more cautious in attack, there has been an added focus on evasive maneuvering.
The farce that was his last bout, against Audley Harrison in 2010, should be overlooked. The punch statistics were shocking. Harrison threw over 30 punches in the three rounds the fight lasted, but only one landed – a paltry jab. Against Nikolai Valuev, in 2009, for the Russian’s WBA world title, Haye’s ability to avoid a shot was on show (see embedded video below) as he forced Valuev to land just 16 percent of his punches. Valuev threw 390 shots throughout the 12 round distance, yet landed just 64. Even though he out-punched Haye, who threw just 143 shots, it was Haye who out-landed as he scored with 98 of them… a 68.5 percent ratio.
Haye has two options, he can either rely on evasion: ducking his head and/or using his foot skills in order to move away from Wlad’s jab or, like he did against John Ruiz in his first defence of the WBA belt he can fight more aggressively. By taking the fight to the inside Klitschko’s long arms won’t be able to inflict as much damage.
A good portion of the battle can be won by destroying Wladimir’s confidence; something Haye has already sought to rock during the build-up to the Saturday’s showdown. Much has been read into the psychological warfare that has already been witnessed, culminating with Wladimir’s older – and protective – brother Vitali, attending the final press conference on Monday. Some read that as a sign of weakness from Wladimir. The HBO Face Off video that was released also saw Klitschko the younger seem lost for words when the subject of decapitated heads was brought up.
Renowned trainer Freddie Roach, of the Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, has worked with Wladimir in the past and has even mentioned the colossal heavyweight’s lack of confidence as a key factor in the fight’s outcome. According to Roach, Wladimir oft said to him how he wished he was more of a natural fighter, rather than an athlete. Roach believes Haye can achieve great success by robbing Wladimir of any mental confidence he takes to the ring. Haye’s cruiserweight speed and explosiveness will therefore be an asset and, by judging Haye’s body-shape – he weighed-in at 212lbs – the gameplan may well be focused on being fast and powerful. Klitschko has been dropped 11 times in his professional career so testing his chin early could sap him of his spirit.
As was mentioned by On The Beak‘s Tommy Barber recently, Haye’s long-time trainer, cornerman and personal friend Adam Booth has perhaps been one of the most underestimated trainers in modern times.
Not many gave Haye a chance when challenging Valuev for the world championship and even during the fight it was deemed the Englishman was not doing enough to warrant leaving the German arena with the belt wrapped around his waist. Likewise, James DeGale was the favourite heading into his British and Commonwealth unification bout with Hayemaker’s George Groves, yet Booth put together an ingenius plan of outboxing DeGale – and it worked; Groves emerged triumphant, and took DeGale’s undefeated record in the process. Haye and the Hayemaker crew are again the underdog. Only this dog has a proven history of biting back.
Not only is Booth developing a reputation of putting together successful gameplans – not unlike Roach – but he also has a history of adapting tactics mid-fight. Haye broke his hand striking Valuev’s granite head during the early rounds in 2009, he retreated back to his stool and Booth perked the Hayemaker up by instructing Haye to rely more on stick-and-move tactics. Together they received a decision win.
(Video embedded above credit – Youtube, Hayemakerboxing1)