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Haye: He [Vitali] Thinks He’s Ivan Drago

David Haye Vitali KlitschkoBy Matt Stein: Already unleashing the dogs of war, David Haye fired off salvos at his next opponent, Vitali Klitschko today in an interview with the BBC Sport, saying “He [Vitali] thinks he’s Ivan Drago. He stands as stiff as a board. I’ve got speed and I’m a fast athlete. I think I can beat this guy. I got confidence watching Manny Pacquiao beat De La Hoya.”

Haye, who stands 6’3″ 215, will be giving away five inches in height and around 35 pounds if the fight were to take place today. Haye will likely train harder and put on a few more pounds before he meets up with Vitali in mid 2009, but it’s doubtful that he’ll pack on too many more pounds before then.

At 215, Haye looks to be about as big as he can be for his frame and if he puts on any more weight than that, he risks being slowed down. His speed is perhaps Haye’s best and only asset going into this fight, because he certainly has little chance of out-boxing Vitali or wearing him down.

Haye’s not noted for having good boxing skills, and gets most of his victories by taking out his opponents between the 1st and 9th rounds. In fact, Haye has never knocked out an opponent beyond the 9th, which means that if he has any chance of beating Vitali, he’s going to have to try and get to him in the early rounds before Haye runs out of energy.

The problem here, though, is that’s when Vitali, a fighter that has knocked out 35 of his 38 opponents, is historically at his most dangerous point. Haye would be risking suicide if he tries to go straight at Vitali during that stretch of the fight.

Of course, he’s brave enough to do that, and I’m sure that Vitali will be counting on him doing that, but it don’t be exactly the most smartest thing to do if Haye has any plans on trying to win the bout. His speed can be an asset for him, but do to his limited reach and height, he’s going to have to take a lot of jabs and right hands from Vitali and hope that his chin can stand up to the kind of punishment.

The fight will likely be taking place in a football stadium in England, meaning that Haye will have a huge fan base encouraging him for every punch he throws. Vitali has rarely fought in front of a hostile crowd at any time in his career, with, perhaps, the closest thing to it happening when the German crowd suddenly turned against him when he was fighting Chris Byrd in 2000.

Vitali seemed very uncomfortable with Byrd being cheered for with every punch he threw, and eventually a defeated looking Vitali quit on his stool after the 9th round. However, that would be nothing like what he would be facing in fighting Haye, a British fighter, in front of a huge home crowd in England.

That may have the effect of making Haye fight well above his ability while at the same time intimidate Vitali. It’s certainly possible that Haye could rush out, throwing caution to the wind and score a quick knockout along the lines of his 2nd round destruction of Enzo Maccarinelli in March.

After starting slowly in the 1st round, Haye hurt Enzo with a big right hand, stunning him badly, and then proceeded to mow him down with blinding fast combinations, reminding one of Lennox Lewis’ knockout over a slow Andrew Golota.

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