|Stay with Haye
By JD Camacho, Doghouse Boxing (June 5, 2009)
Wladimir Klitschko has a tough decision to make.
The recent injury of British heavyweight and proverbial loudmouth David Haye has left the world’s #1 heavyweight without a dance partner on June 20th. According to Setanta Sports, Wladimir can either waltz with David Haye three weeks later or get down with an alternate opponent on the original date. While Bernd Boente, Klitschko’s manager, claims that no less than ten other heavyweights including
Americans Kevin Johnson and Evander Holyfield are ready and willing to tango with Klitschko, the undefeated former WBA titlist Ruslan Chagaev appears to be the preferred choice.
Few could blame Klitschko for fighting Chagaev instead of Haye. Chagaev has a nice, glittering goose egg on the end of his record, a following in the June 20th site of Germany, and most importantly serious recognition in the heavyweight ranks. In fact, according to Boente the RING Magazine heavyweight title would be on the line for the first time in years. Klitschko Chagaev would be a meaningful fight in a division starved for meaningful fights.
But there’s one reason Haye might be a better potential opponent. It has nothing to do with the scores of British fight fans who have vowed to travel to Germany and cheer their man on. It has nothing to do with Haye’s donning of shirts that feature the Klitschko brothers’ decapitated heads. It has nothing to do with Haye’s former undisputed cruiserweight title.
It has everything to do with Haye’s potential thrill factor.
David Haye is more of a fighter than Ruslan Chagaev. That doesn’t mean he’s a better boxer, and that doesn’t mean Chagaev can’t hit. After all, it’s Chagaev and not Haye who has a universal Top 5 ranking in the heavyweight division, along with seventeen stoppages in twenty-five wins.
But consider each fighter’s last four fights. In Chagaev’s last four outings, neither he nor his opponent produced a knockdown in forty-eight rounds. In Haye’s last four ring encounters, he and his adversary amassed a total of twelve knockdowns in a mere fifteen stanzas. Haye also scored four knockout wins. Chagaev won four decisions. And while Chagaev does carry respectable power, he tends to stick-and-move against bigger, more powerful opponents, as he did in his bouts against Nikolai Valuev and Vladmir Virchis. For better or worse, Haye fights every opponent the same way, and that way tends to produce more cheers than jeers and more trips to the canvas than quips from the crowd.
Wladimir Klitschko hasn’t been in a truly exciting scrap for years. And it’s unlikely Chagaev would go after Klitschko like Haye would, just as it’s unlikely that Klitschko could score the sensational knockout on Chagaev that he could score on the oft wide-open Haye.
It’s telling that Manny Pacquiao is looking towards Edwin Valero as his only non-superstar prospective opponent looking away from Timothy Bradley. Bradley is an undefeated titlist and a career junior welterweight. Valero is a brand-new lightweight. But Valero is a puncher. Valero is exciting. Like Haye, Valero has that thrill factor. Bradley doesn’t, or at least not to the same extent as Valero.
It’s likely that the Klitschko camp will have chosen Chagaev by the time this article posts. But Wladimir Klitschko doesn’t need the RING title to boost his profile. He needs that thrill factor. David Haye could give it to him, if Klitschko is willing.
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e-mail JD at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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