Klitschko-Haye: The Last Word

By Joe Masterleo on July 3, 2011
Klitschko-Haye: The Last Word

After running from Klitschko for the entire 12 rounds, Haye plaintively bared his shoeless foot after the bout, complaining of a broken toe…

“Bravery is being the only one who knows that you’re afraid.”—Franklin P. Jones

Forecasted as one of boxing’s “greatest hits” this year, the much ballyhooed heavyweight championship bout between Waldimir Klitschko and David Haye instead turned out to be one of its “greatest pits,” judging by the reaction of telecasters and ringside observers alike in Hamburg, Germany, Saturday night.

Haye, the long-on-flare, short-on-talent Brit who calls himself “The Hayemaker” owing to his lunging, roundhouse style, was billed as the top heavyweight contender to its current titleholder, Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko, former Olympic gold medalist and 14-time defender of the heavyweight crown.

Against the skillfully overpowering Klitschko, the Brit contender looked more the Twit pretender, whose haymaking fell to excuse-making after running from Klitschko for the entire 12 rounds, plaintively baring his shoeless foot after the bout, complaining of a broken toe.

Without question this one was a laugher. By mid-fight it became yawningly clear that Haye’s plan was centered primarily on surviving a knockout as opposed to seriously challenging for the championship. Apparently, Haye’s handlers never taught him that courage cannot be tested cautiously. No doubt, his multiple “slips” to the canvas fast became multiple trips to the fridge for HBO viewers.

Owing to his mouthy pre-fight prognosticating, coarse language, ring cowardice and general lack of class, Haye no doubt became another fading casualty on the brother Klitschko’s expanding “Bum of the Month” list.

Thus far, Klitschko has proven too big, too fast and too skilled to beat. Only Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali have had 10 or more title defenses as heavyweight champion. Like it or not, that should put the younger Klitschko in very rare company, perhaps among the top-10 of all-time great heavyweights.

When Lennox Lewis was recognized as the undisputed heavyweight champion in November 1999, he became the leading edge of a wave of non-U.S. boxers. In recent years, the dominance of the Klitschkos has cast a darker shadow over American heavyweights, who for years were reputed as the standard bearers of boxing.

In the land of baseball and hot dogs, heavyweight notables are no longer, as by championship standards the current crop are under-talented, under-conditioned, Buddha bellied couch-potatoes with shamefully slothful physiques—Barnum’s “Greatest Show on Girth.” Surely this country can do better.

In a fragmented sport that has more titles than the Library of Congress, more divisions than the Roman Army, and more belts than a men’s haberdashery, Wladimir and Vitale Klitschko are now in possession of five of the major world heavyweight championship belts, with no serious contenders on the immediate horizon.

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