Boxing: Haye has final quiet word as world shakes
Such is David Haye's relish for tonight's heavyweight unification showdown with Wladimir Klitschko that within 30 minutes of yesterday's weigh-in the WBA champion was back in his hotel suite reliving the event on YouTube.
Klitschko, the holder of the WBO, IBF and IBO belts, weighed in at 17st 5lbs, more than two stone heavier than Haye, who stepped on the scales at 15st 3lbs at a packed sports store in the centre of Hamburg.
It must have been the first time that the giant Ukrainian has been barracked on his measured walk to the dais in his adopted country, so partisan was the support from hundreds of British fight fans who had crammed into the venue. "Klitschko, Klitschko, where's your fans?" the mob chanted.
Will Haye pull off a shock victory and become the new pathfinder of the heavyweight division? It is anyone's guess.
There are so many intangibles to this contest, the biggest heavyweight meeting since Lennox Lewis fought Mike Tyson almost a decade ago and the debate around the bars of Hamburg will only cease when the first bell rings tonight, around 10.30.
After three years of hype, at last, the fight. Forget Haye's coarse taunts and insults now. That was all part of the pageant. Ninety per cent of Hamburg FC's stadium tickets have been sold, and it will heave to its capacity of 50,000 with walk-ups by the time the action begins.
The contest will gross around £30m and will be aired in 150 countries. Haye and Klitschko, both unbeaten in seven years and on a 50-50 split on revenue, will bank in the region of £10m apiece. The remainder will go to costs and Sky Box Office.
Haye will spend today scouring boxing forums, as is his wont, savouring the arguments, until he leaves for the Imtech Arena two hours before the fight, swaggering into the ring to the strains of 'Ain't No Stopping Us Now'.
There is a beauty, and brutal artistry, to heavyweight prize fighting. In this case, both men have suspect chins. One measured punch from either man could determine the outcome.
In Haye's mind, this is Rocky Balboa versus Ivan Drago. "I've dreamt so many times of knocking Klitschko out," said Haye. "There was no fixed plan for my weight but I wanted to be at my lightest, fittest and healthiest."
What had he said to Klitschko? "I'm afraid I can't repeat what I said to him. It's unrepeatable," came the reply.
Can Haye, naturally a cruiserweight, defeat the giant Ukrainian, schooled in the upright style of the Eastern European fighter? Haye has a very dangerous puncher's chance.
Haye and his trainer, Adam Booth, have studied in painstaking detail two particular Klitschko fights, and have modelled their game plan on them.
The first was Klitschko's last defeat, to Lamon Brewster in 2004, the second his victory over Eddie Chambers in March last year. Brewster threw himself at Klitschko at every opportunity. Brewster was nearly knocked out early in the fight, but he ducked low, moved from the waist, and eventually dismantled Klitschko in the fifth round after landing winging left hooks.
In studying Chambers, Haye and Booth noted he had successfully weaved and bobbed his way inside and under Klitschko, avoiding his ramrod jab, but without throwing punches.
He froze. Yet he was in a position to attack and topple the champion, who defends a heavyweight crown for the 10th successive time.
Haye knows what Klitschko does, but he does it well. A safety-first fighter, he uses three punches: the jab, the right cross, and the left hook out of his jab. He does not use feints. Klitschko aims almost solely for the head.
On paper, Klitschko would appear to have all the tools for victory: experience in this division (58 fights at heavyweight to Haye's five) and, moreover, size and reach advantages. Yet intriguingly, Haye has speed in abundance and the deep-set belief that he is destined to defeat the Ukrainian.
The feeling also lingers that Klitschko has not been tested by a genuine contender. If Haye can use feints cleverly, and avoid the jab, landing left and right hooks to the head, or even the body, he could finish Klitschko by technical knockout. But it needs to be in the first two-thirds of the fight.
Equally, Haye could be hurt by Klitschko. A personal view is that Haye could do it, as long as Klitschko does not catch him. But it is a big ask.
If he does, expect the 'Hayemaker' to tell us all that he "shook up the world". (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Haye v Klitschko,
Live, Sky Box Office, 10.0 (approx)