Is Vitali Doing Wladimir a Disservice By Fighting Haye?
Photo by Pavel “Eagle eye” Terehov – By Matt Stein: Wladimir Klitschko must either be the nicest brother you could ever imagine having or else someone gullible, passive and easily walked over. Why else would he allow his older brother, Vitali Klitschko, to leapfrog over him and take on David Haye, a fighter that has for months been pursuing Wladimir with single-minded determination. Now, instead of Wladimir being the one to take on Haye in what will without a doubt be a minor mega-fight, Vitali has stepped up and will be fighting him instead.
The problem here is that Haye has been slagging Wladimir continuously in the media, questioning his boxing skills, courage and what have you, and after all the abuse that has been leveled at Wladimir, it would only seem logical that Wladimir should be the one to fight Haye, if nothing else than to make it clear that he is good enough and brave enough to beat him.
But with Vitali moving in and seemingly pushing Wladimir aside with the wave of a hand, it seems like he’s stealing Wladimir’s thunder. After all, Wladimir has fought professionally for 12 years, and the closest thing that he’s had to a huge, mega fight during that time is his first fight with Chris Byrd with in October 2000.
In contrast, Vitali has had an exciting match-up with Lennox Lewis in 2003. So if you’re keeping score, that’s 1-0 for Vitali. With as crappy as the heavyweight division is, there’s an excellent chance that Wladimir never will get a shot at huge, mega fight during his career for lack of quality heavyweights.
That is, if Vitali beats Haye as bad as many boxing experts are predicting he will. Though Haye is saying he wants to fight both of the Klitschko brothers in 2009, let’s be real: There won’t be the slightest bit of interest in anyone seeing Wladimir fight Haye if David is destroyed in a couple of rounds by Vitali.
If anything, Haye will be seen as limited hype job, someone who had talked his way into a title fight without earning it by fighting quality heavyweights. Without Haye, Wladimir will be forced to pick over the crumbs in the heavyweight division, making the best of things against fighters like Chris Arreola, Alexander Povetkin, Alexander Dimitrenko, Juan Carlos Gomez and Nikolay Valuev.
Don’t get me wrong, all of them are good fighters, but none of them are particularly well thought of by the boxing public, and because of that, Wladimir won’t get much attention in facing and beating any of them. With Haye, though, Wladimir would have gotten a lot of praise, not to mention a huge payday, in facing and beating him. Now, that dream is all but gone.
For the past three years, fans have been waiting with a lot of interest in seeing Wladimir take on Samuel Peter in a rematch of their exciting 2005 bout, one in which Wladimir struggled to win, getting knocked down three times by Peter.
However, just when Wladimir was poised to fight him, Vitali moved in and took the bout, giving Peter an embarrassing beating and stopping him in the 9th round. With that loss, Peter was effectively removed as a potential opponent for Wladimir in what would have been a unification bout.
As bad as the beating was, there’s now little interest in Wladimir ever fighting Peter again. After all, who would want to see Wladimir fight him again after the way that Vitali exposed him?
After years of waiting for an exciting, credible opponent that would interest boxing fans, Wladimir finally lucks out in having the brash, loud-talking Haye move up from the cruiserweight division, where he was considered to be the best fighter far and away, to challenge him.
In a sense, Haye was like a real life Apollo Creed, seeking out a fight with a Rocky Balboa/Ivan Drago-type fighter who had never had something big to fight for. Haye insulted Wladimir often in the media, almost single-handedly attracting interest in a fight with him, while at the same time making himself known to American audiences who had previously never head his name.
Now, unfortunately, that the American fans, as well as the rest of the World, will never see Wladimir get the chance to face Haye, because Vitali has zoomed in and scooped him up as an opponent. And while Haye has said that he still plans on facing Vitali after he finishes business with Vitali, who will really want to see that fight if Vitali humiliates him as bad as he did Peter? Probably no one, not even Wladimir. That’s too bad.