David Haye's June 29 return to the ring in Manchester, England, will be one of the bigger heavyweight fights of 2013, and two men in particular are trying to grab the opportunity. Kubrat Pulev and Manuel Charr, very different levels of "contender," are chasing the bout.
Charr (23-1, 13 KO) says he wants to fight Haye, and then get another crack at Vitali Klitschko:
"There's no need to look any further," he told The Sun, "I'm right here waiting. Haye himself said that Vitali Klitschko couldn't beat me - instead Vitali's doctor won the fight for him.
"Haye alone isn't interesting enough for me. I want to become WBC world heavyweight champion and I want to beat Vitali Klitschko."
Charr, who lost every moment of his fight with Klitschko before the bout was stopped due to a cut and was unable to let his hands go, would be the much safer of the two potential opponents, and thus it's probably safe to say that many boxing fans, at least those who have learned to be acceptably cynical about the sport, will expect that if one of these two men does get the fight, it will be Charr.
Pulev (17-0, 9 KO) is in line for an IBF title shot, but he'd be waiting on the winner of the April 20 fight between Tyson Fury and Steve Cunningham, which would then, in theory, set up a final eliminator. He might not be willing to simply wait around that much longer. He was to face Tomasz Adamek, but Adamek pretty transparently decided not to take that fight, even after agreeing the IBF's idea for last year's mini-tournament, which saw Adamek controversially beat Cunningham, and Pulev dominate Alexander Ustinov.
"I'll likely be back in June," he told boxingbet.pl. "So, yes, this means we have been in talks with David Haye about the June 29 fight. He is such a strong opponent, but what should I do? If I want to develop, I have to face strong opponents such as David.
"Haye is a very good fighter, but I don't think he's better than me. I don't care where the fight takes place."
Haye (26-2, 24 KO) has been inactive since last July's win over Dereck Chisora, but he's a guy who always stays in top condition, and by today's standards, a year out of the ring isn't a huge deal for guys who don't let themselves go between bouts.
Obviously, I'd expect that just about everyone would rather see Haye fight Pulev, as that is arguably the best heavyweight fight that can be made outside of the Klitschkos fighting one another, or fighting Haye, Pulev, or Alexander Povetkin. But will Haye take that gamble with a comeback, or will he look to Charr, a less talented opponent, and fitting the stereotypical mold of someone who can be sold to the gullible with such nonsense as "Vitali couldn't beat him, only the doctor could"?