David Haye vs Wladmir Klitschko
6’3” Height 6’6”
30 Age 35
26 Fights 58
25 Wins 55
23 KOs 49
1 Losses 3
WBA Heavyweight Champion of the World
Like many great heavyweights, Haye is admired and reviled in equal measure but he has yet to prove that he is capable of taking over the mantle of Lennox Lewis as a fighter worthy of Britain’s number one heavyweight.
He has been criticised, and rightly so, for having a weak chin and being a small heavyweight but that ignores the fact that Haye is a tremendous athlete and a lightening fast puncher who has the power to knock anybody out.
To get past Klitschko he will need to go for it, show early that he is not afraid to get hit and put the Ukranian under constant pressure with a mixture of speed and styles.
In the lead up, Haye even suggested that he may “chuck a few curve balls” at Klitschko by using a southpaw style on occasions, while the element of speed and surprise will be crucial it is more important that Haye make his mark early.
Wladmir is too strong, too athletic and simply too big to be beaten by a technician so Haye can not afford to box on the back foot, hoping to nick a point here and there.
In his fight against the Russian Giant Nikolay Valuev he showed that he is capable of using his slightness and speed to remain elusive while taking his opportunities to register hard and fast combinations.
Against Audley Harrison, Haye sat back for two rounds comfortable in the knowledge that when the time came he would hurt Harrison.
On Saturday, Haye will need to hurt Klitschko earlier, put him on the back foot and make rather than wait for opportunities to throw combinations.
Wladmir has been knocked down more than ten times in his career so if Haye does land a blow early on he could put him under pressure to box more openly which will give the Londoner the advantage.
IBF, WBO, IBO and Boxing Ring Magazine Heavweight Champion
The Klitschko brothers have dominated the heavyweight division for the last decade with a mixture of patience and power.
Wladmir holds the advantage over Haye in weight, height and strength so will not be looking to take the fight to the Londoner but rather sitting back and making his ringing jab count.
He is known as Dr. Steelhammer and the title is not mere affectation, Klitschko has a doctorate in philsophy and sports science, and his diligence extends to his fighting.
He approaches each fight like a chess game, carefully planning every round and reacting cleverly to his opponents plan, but it would be a mistake to regard him as a negative fighter.
With 49 KOs in his career Klitschko is a proven knockout artist who knows when his opponent is weakened and takes the opportunity to finish the fight.
Haye has pointed to the fact that the Ukranian has regularly been knocked down in his career but always thoughtful in the ring he rarely panics and may not be fazed by finding himself on the mat.
Against Samuel Peter, the speedy and powerful fighter who was thought to be the perfect foil to Klitschko’s robust style, Wladmir was knocked down three times but weathered the storm eventually winning by unanimous decision.
In the comeback fight against Peter last year he knocked out the Nigerian in the tenth round in a dominant performance.
Klitschko will take solace in the fact that Haye is a weaker finisher, against Valuev Haye ambled too long and could have had the giant reeling but instead chose to nick points.
Klitschko has proven that he can recover from big hits and use his patience and prudence to win on points or land his own knockout blow.
When the bells rings…
Though he is the underdog, the fight is very much in the hands of Haye.
He has the skill set to hurt Klitschko but he must use it wisely to be in with a chance against the power and patience of the Ukranian.
Speed and powerful combinations will turn the fight in Haye’s favour but if he is indecisive as the fight progresses as he was against Valuev he will lose any advantage he has over the more powerful fighter.
If Haye waits too long to make his move he will play into Klitschko’s hands, he will be hit with jab after jab as well as running the risk of taking one on his unconvincing chin.
Klitschko will have his game plan set out from the first bell so it is up to Haye to upset him and put him under pressure.
Only then will Haye have a chance to use his power to knock out the younger Klitschko.
Betting – Odds from Paddy Power
Haye 7/5 Klitschko 4/7
To win by KO/TKO
Haye 2/1 Klitschko 5/4
To win by points of decision
Haye 9/1 Klitschko 3/1
To be knocked down and win
Haye 9/1 Klitschko 6/1
To be knocked down
Haye 8/11 Klitschko 13/8