On U.S. shores, it's Manny Pacquiao this and Manny Pacquiao that. Occasionally, Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s name pops up -- will he fight? Is he back in court? Did he poke someone in the face?
But the biggest fight of the year might not involve either Pacquiao or Mayweather in 2011. While Pacquiao lines up a lukewarm fight with Shane Mosley on May 7 and a possible fall showdown with Juan Manuel Marquez, and Mayweather may not fight at all, it's the old-timey glory of the heavyweight division that could produce 2011's most enormous showdown.
On July 2 in Hamburg, Germany, legitimate division champion Wladimir Klitschko (55-3, 49 KO) takes on David Haye (25-1, 23 KO), the loud-barking former cruiserweight champion whose heavyweight pedigree will finally be given a truly serious test from a big, strong, skilled heavyweight.
Haye told Sky Sports a few days ago that he feels this is the biggest fight of 2011:
"Hamburg is an accessible city for a lot of British fans, so I'm expecting a huge turn-out for what is undoubtedly the biggest boxing event of the year," he said. "We're going to have an army of Brits invading Germany on July 2 and I can't wait to sample the atmosphere. I think every city in mainland Europe and beyond wanted to stage this fight, and that shows just what an appealing event it is."
Haye also does his usual boasting -- he'll knock out Wlad, he's too fast, etc. -- but I thought this was a point worth serious consideration. Is this the biggest fight of the year?
In the U.S., it's "only" on HBO, but that's significant itself as HBO has not aired a heavyweight fight in a year, and hasn't aired a Klitschko brothers fight since December 2009, and hasn't aired a Wladimir Klitschko fight since December 2008. The heavyweight division is certainly depleted as we've all heard and said three trillion times, and should Wladimir and Vitali win as most expect against David Haye and Tomasz Adamek, there will be nothing new to look forward to with the big boys, either. At that point, the division would basically be out of Klitschko brothers challengers, be they legitimate or not, and frankly at that point the two may as well retire, at least so far as having the potential to be involved in even potentially interesting fights.
I would have to say that for my money, Klitschko-Haye does look like the biggest, most significant fight of 2011. Pacquiao-Mosley is a really big fight, but Klitschko-Haye is going to do, I expect, about 60,000 live in Germany, great TV ratings in Germany, great buys in the UK on Sky Box Office, and I figure very good to great TV ratings on HBO in the U.S., too. Simply put I expect more eyeballs tuned in to Klitschko-Haye than any other fight this year, unless somehow Pacquiao-Mayweather happens.
What say you? Biggest fight of the year, or just one of them?