Despite earlier reports from Manny Steward (Wladimir Klitschko's trainer) that a fight between the IBF/WBO heavyweight titlist and former cruiserweight champion David Haye was nearly completed, all signs currently point to serious trouble in getting the fight done, which has been proposed for June 20 in London, not at the originally rumored O2 Arena, but at Stamford Bridge, a 40,000-seat soccer stadium.
Dan Rafael of ESPN.com reports that the London idea appears to be totally out, and spoke to Klitschko manager Bernd Boente, who was blunt about Haye's star power and his trainer/manager, Adam Booth:
"We are absolutely willing to do the fight, but we have to start all over again to bring them down from their high horse. Adam is very inexperienced. He may be a good coach, but he's definitely not a good manager. If he's not taking this chance, do you know how long it will be before Haye is in a mandatory position? It will take a long time. This is a unique chance for Haye and they are being so greedy. If Haye had a name like Lennox Lewis or Evander Holyfield in their best days, we would have additional money from international sales. But that is not the case."
"It does not make sense to fight him if he doesn't bring more to the table than a regular challenger like Hasim Rahman or Tony Thompson," Boente said. "Why pay him more than a mandatory challenger? And he was complaining about options. Let him go fight Ruslan Chagaev or Nikolai Valuev and see how many options their promoters ask for."
Telegraph is reporting that Haye is very open to fighting Wladimir in Germany, where the Klitschkos are based:
Adam Booth, Haye's trainer and agent, explained: "The original deal to co-promote the event [in London] would never work because of unacceptable terms. However, we're willing to sacrifice a little on our side just to get this fight made. David will fight Wladimir anywhere they choose, and give them the two rematch options they have requested. They would make exactly the same money in Germany as they would in England because we have dropped our figure to go to Germany."
Ron Lewis of the Times-Online points out the obvious when it comes to this situation:
The bottom line is that Haye needs the Klitschkos more than they need him... and they know it. A family virtual monopoly of the titles goes a long way in this business. Boente's interview could merely be a negotiating tactic, but it now seems more likely that Wladimir will be facing Chris Arreola in Los Angeles in May. After that he has Alexander Povetkin to take care of. Vitali, providing he beats Juan Carlos Gomez next month, could be available in September.
So the real question is, assuming Wladimir goes ahead with an HBO fight against Chris Arreola in Los Angeles in May instead of fighting Haye in June (and this is what I expect now), what does Haye do?
Vitali has his hands full with Juan Carlos Gomez, who is an underdog but no pushover on March 21. Plus, you always have to consider Vitali's health. Any fight could be his last; any training camp could make the fight previous his last. Crossing fingers until September on Vitali Klitschko is risky.
Wladimir would fight Arreola, and should he win, he would then fight Povetkin, his other mandatory. And he should do that, too. Both Arreola and Povetkin have done more as heavies than Haye has. Obviously I'd love to see Wladimir fight Haye, but if that can't get done, then he should take care of his mandatories. Povetkin had to pull out of a scheduled December bout with Wladimir, and we wound up with Hasim Rahman.
David Haye would have to fight again, and have to find someone credible. It won't be acceptable for him to fight another Monte Barrett, which is not really a shot at Monte, but he's aging and was never a world-class fighter to begin with. Barrett was a fine choice for a step up to heavy to get people talking. But now he has to fight someone bigger than that to make a possible fight with either Klitschko brother bigger than it would be now.
The sad reality is that Haye, if he's being a smart businessman, can't go too big, either, because no one's quite sure about his heavyweight whiskers. Barrett wobbled him a couple times. And going bigger than Barrett pretty much means taking a genuine risk on someone. Tony Thompson could use a fight, but I don't think Haye is going to want to fight a 6'5" southpaw who has no name value. Former titlist Sultan Ibragimov is better than he looked against Klitschko, but that fight ruined him because of his dreadful performance.
Another former titlist, Sergei Liakhovich, recently said he was itching to get his career back on track. Liakhovich also has no name value and has been horrid in his last couple of notable fights. No one wants to fight John Ruiz because he makes everything closer than it should be. Oleg Maskaev might be able to bang a little more than Haye wants to risk. Faded Americans like Rahman, Toney and (oh, let's mention him) Holyfield just won't do. Titlists Ruslan Chagaev and Nikolai Valuev are probably not thinking about Haye, period, because he's explosive and their names have never come up in association with Haye. He wants the Klitschkos, and he's made that clear.
Two guys it won't be: Samuel Peter and Eddie Chambers, who are officially on like Diddy Kong for the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on March 27, live on Friday Night Fights. That's kind of too bad because either of them make for a decent opponent.
We'll see what happens, but right now I'd say it's best to temper your expectations. It seems like Klitschko-Arreola is the easier fight to make, it eliminates a mandatory, and you can always let Klitschko (either one) versus Haye simmer a while longer. David just has to keep winning, because chances are the Klitschkos will.