Well, this is great.
All signs had pointed to an HBO-broadcasted, huge arena showdown in Frankfurt, Germany on September 12 between WBC heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko and David Haye, the big-talking ex-cruiser champ that promised to decapitate both Klitschkos, but for the second time this year, Haye has ducked out of a fight with a Klitschko brother. Instead, he'll face NIkolai Valuev on November 7.
The revelation was the end of a curious day. Klitschko's manager, Bernd Boente, and adviser Shelly Finkel couldn't reach Booth to finalize a deal they thought they had agreed to for Klitschko-Haye to meet Sept. 12 at the 55,000-seat Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt, Germany. The fight would have had live television coverage on HBO in the United States.
"I am thrilled to announce that my dream of becoming world heavyweight champion will be realized on Nov. 7 when I challenge the tallest and heaviest champion of all time, Nikolai Valuev," the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Haye said of the 7-foot, 320-pound Russian giant. "Valuev's known as 'The Beast From The East' and there's a reason he's got that nickname. He's a big, ugly, sweaty and hairy man from the Eastern Bloc. David only needed a slingshot and a stone to flatten Goliath and I'm convinced my right hand generates more power than a stone."
It's great quotery again, but frankly little in the way of actual machismo has come from Haye since his much-publicized move to the heavyweight division. ALL he talked about was fighting the Klitschkos and beating them badly. What he's done instead is fight Monte Barrett, and now taken a year off to come back and fight Valuev, a joke of a titlist that many feel was outpointed by a 46-year old Evander Holyfield last December.
Haye's issue was apparently with the contract, but the Klitschko side isn't buying it, and this is not the first time that Haye's manager/trainer Adam Booth has been called "amateurish" as a negotiator. You may recall that Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer had to step in and broker the deal for Wladimir-Haye, which was scrapped when Haye pulled up with an injury. Klitschko's manager Bernd Boente is furious:
"Haye is saying it's a slavery contract and won't sign it after we agreed to everything," Boente said. "The contract we agreed on is on their desk and they don't sign it. From [Wednesday] morning on, they don't answer us. This is the worst I have seen in negotiating. We have not heard from them. This is so amateurish. How little class do they have? I really prefer to negotiate with people like Don King or Peter Kohl, who are tough, but at least you can talk to them and negotiate. This guy has no idea what he is doing. Haye has the right trainer maybe, but not the right manager."
Adviser Shelly Finkel is on the same page as Boente:
"Everything was OK, we thought," Finkel said. "The only thing up in the air was what little technical things had to be finished between Sky and [German broadcaster] RTL. They were very minor and had nothing to do with the important deal points. All of a sudden [Booth] and his lawyer became unavailable. But we got a letter from the lawyer saying things were fine on all points except the technical issues [between broadcasters].
"I understand the business. If you're making a deal and you want to back out, just say it. But don't do it like this. [Booth] doesn't even have the guts to answer our phone calls."
Haye has talked, talked, talked. Booth has talked, talked, talked. There's been no action on this Klitschko mission of theirs. Booth promised a big stadium in England for Haye's canceled fight with Wladimir and couldn't deliver it. That fight had to be moved to Germany, where it was a HUGE ticket immediately, and then it was off. Curiously, Haye's TV network Setanta Sports went under just after that. Now this.
At the same time, and being entirely fair, we don't know the contracts put in place, and Haye does. This is what he had to say to The Sun regarding that contract:
"The reality was that I would not have been in control of my own destiny for quite a long while if I had signed the contract the Klitschko management group were putting in front of me.
"Basically they would have been able to tell me when and who I fight for quite a while to come.
"This way, when I beat Valuev later this year I will again be in control of my own destiny."
We also heard before the Wladimir fight that it was something like this, that they wanted Haye, were he to win, to have to fight the other brother, or a rematch, or the other brother and then a rematch -- it was all rumor and speculation, but things leak in these negotiations.
What I worry about now is uneasiness on both sides of the issue. Haye doesn't seem as ecstatic to run in and throw down with Wladimir or Vitali as he's let on, and now the Klitschko side is probably going to be really hesitant to bother negotiating with him. Wladimir got lucky and was able to put Ruslan Chagaev in Haye's spot on very short notice. Vitali might get lucky and be able to fight Chris Arreola instead, another fight that had been discussed. But now they've both been burned by Haye and Booth.
Valuev-Haye will be carried by Sky Box Office in the UK, and I wouldn't be surprised if it got a small US PPV like Khan-Barrera did. Hey, if Chagaev-Drumond can get US PPV, this should.