Haye promises a changing of the guard
Story by Alex Dombroff
Photos by David Greene
David Haye loves to talk.
Wardrobe, politics - you name it - and the former undisputed cruiserweight champion will add his two cents. But there is one topic on Haye’s mind that he really can’t get enough.
His nearing encounter with recognized heavyweight champion Wladamir Klitschko.
During a press conference in New York City last week to announce the June 20 fight in Germany, it was the challenger Haye who stole the show, showing up in a shirt depicting him decapitating Wladamir and brother, Vitali, and spewing verbal jabs at his opponent.
For Haye (22-1, 21 KOs), the antics have nothing to do with this being a biggest fight of his career. In fact, to him this is business as usual.
“It comes naturally,” said Haye. “I’m always trying to be myself. I never consciously try to say or do anything different. Since my first fight, I’ve always just said what I thought.”
Nothing is off-limits for Haye, either.
After being coaxed into removing his shirt, he revealed one underneath it, this one making fun of the Klitschko name in a sexual manner.
And just seconds after being introduced on the dais, he was unafraid to give his opinion on the fight’s rapid ticket sales (30,000 sold in the first day of availability).
“Just look at the way tickets are sold,” said Haye. “That’s not because people want to come see Wladamir jab all night long. Hell no.”
If Klitschko(52-3, 46 KOs) is Haye’s favorite topic of conversation, it is Klitschko’s jab that is his favorite subplot.
Haye asserts that the common boxing fan is sick of seeing a heavyweight champion win his fights using technical skills and they are ready for a come-forward, power puncher, exactly the style Haye fancies himself.
“There is going to be a changing of the guard,” said Haye. “You’re going to have the old 6-foot-7 heavyweight going jab, jab, grab versus the ‘Hayemaker,’ throwing bombs.”
The champion may not have Haye’s respect now, but he is convinced he will be eating his words about the jab, literally.
“He’s laughing about my jab. Keep laughing,” said Klitschko. “He will get a pizza face from this jab.”
That might not be what Haye wants to hear as most pundits think the challenger’s best chances will come if he can goad Klitschko into a fight, and not a tactical boxing match.
Even Haye admits that most everything he says is geared towards the goal of wanting Klitschko, whose three losses have come via knockout, to brawl a little bit more than usual.
“It’s very difficult to out-box him. I’m going to make him go to war,” said Haye. “To do that you have to get under his skin from time to time, and you have to make him motivated to go to war.”
Klitschko admitted at the press conference Haye has gotten under his skin, perhaps a mild victory for the London-based challenger.
But, Haye trainer Adam Booth isn’t buying it, claiming Klitschko could not be as successfully as he’s been by fighting on emotion.
So Booth has taken on the task of making sure the effort regularly used towards put downs is being used towards preparation.
“In the gym there is no laughing as joking while we’re doing the work,” said Booth. “It’s about correcting mistakes and doing your gym. As soon as the gym session is over, the laughs and jokes we have just make the day more enjoyable.”
To Haye’s credit, he knows the war he needs to win isn’t the one of words, but that one that will take place June 20.
“I was the undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world; I didn’t win that by talking,” said Haye. “I won that by fighting. If I hadn’t won that title and just talked a lot, I’d just be an idiot who talks a lot.”
Though, don’t expect Haye to stop the banter just because he enters the ring.
“I’m going to be talking [garbage] the whole way through,” said Haye.
He wouldn’t know how to do it any other way.