Today's world heavyweight championship fight fizzled by the middle rounds, and it may be time to simply write off the division as a two-man show. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko noted after the fight today that David Haye did give him trouble with his speed defensively, with Klitschko finding it difficult to land on Haye. That did appear to be the case for much of the fight, as Haye was especially able to easily slip left hooks from Klitschko.
Klitschko also noted that he felt Haye was obviously scared to fight him, but that he is "super motivated" to continue on as world champion.
David Haye, to his credit, rated his own performance as "subpar," and said he'd broken his toe in training camp and was unable to push off of his foot. Haye admitted that it will be perceived as an "alibi," as HBO's Larry Merchant put it. Haye said he was "very frustrated" with the way he fought, and credited Klitschko with having the perfect gameplan.
Haye also said that he was trying to encourage Klitschko to come at him more, but that it didn't work.
One thing has to be mentioned: David Haye's continual flops, about eight in total, were pretty disgraceful. Referee Gino Rodriguez fell for the flops for a while, deducting a point from Klitschko at one point, but later came around and counted one of the flops as a knockdown. Rodriguez seemed a bit rattled overall -- whether it was due to Adam Booth pressing on him pre-fight about Klitschko's holding (something we saw very little of in the fight) or the chatter that he would be pro-Klitschko, Rodriguez just seemed a bit overwhelmed by the moment. It would have been fine to take a point from Haye for flopping, but you can't just count a knockdown out of frustration, nor can you threaten to do it again, as he did.
Haye just didn't live up to his talk, broken toe or not. What the fight actually turned out to be didn't surprise me in the least. I thought we'd see a stoppage, but this was the other idea: A dull, routine heavyweight fight, with Klitschko controlling. After spectacular entrances, the fight fizzled. It's no shock to anyone who has watched this miserable division since the retirement of Lennox Lewis. The Klitschkos deserve their respect for being very good fighters and far better than the field around them, but the lack of competition just drags everything down. That said, without them the division would just be a bunch of mediocrities and guys who are no better than "pretty good."
Since this fight was basically a flop in the ring, my current feeling about the heavyweight division is as follows:
It will be years before this division is truly exciting again. It's not close, and we just saw the last best hope to shake things up fail. There is particularly promising on the horizon, and there is no fight besides the impossible brother vs brother matchup that can really inject the division with any life. I said way back that this could be the fight that finally "kills" heavyweight boxing. It just may have been. It's nothing against Wladimir Klitschko, but good fighters without competition lose the ability to be truly interesting.
It's not you, Wladimir and Vitali. It's everyone else.