World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko will face nemesis David Haye, finally, on July 2 in Hamburg, Germany. The fight will be carried around the world by HBO in the United States, Sky Box Office in the UK, and RTL in Germany.
After two years of posturing and vitriol, David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko will finally meet in Hamburg on 2 July in what could be the biggest fight in British history worth up to £50m.
“Every city in mainland Europe and beyond wanted to stage this fight,” Haye said. “Personally, I wasn’t bothered where the fight ended up. By the time I’ve finished with Wladimir, he won’t know where he is anyway. I’ve got no doubt he will freeze like an iceberg when I hit him on the chin in Hamburg.
“He won’t know how to react, will panic, attempt to run for cover and then realise big brother Vitali is in the corner mopping up tears with a white towel.”
Klitschko’s German manager, Bernd Bönte, said: “It is confirmed, 100%.” He also said the date and venue were agreeable to Haye’s trainer and adviser, Adam Booth. The unification of Haye’s WBA title and Klitschko’s WBO and IBF belts will take place in the 57,000-seater Imtech Arena, home to the Bundesliga side Hamburg.
“We had different options and held negotiations in other countries,” Bönte said. “Switzerland was in play, Ukraine and different options in Germany.”
Bönte said, however, that Britain was not an option, apparently for financial reasons. Booth did not object to that. “It was always the case that Adam Booth and myself discussed all these things such as the different business options on the table, as partners, and then made the decision together yesterday that we’d go to Hamburg.”
Bönte and Booth had considered two dates – 2 July or 25 June – and at least half a dozen venues, so desperate were they not to cede financial advantage to the other side. Haye, having tested Klitschko’s patience to the limit, agreed last month that the Ukrainian and his negotiators could choose the venue – as long as it maximised revenues.
Booth said: “Not as difficult [to negotiate] as it was in the past. They realised this fight couldn’t get any bigger. They knew it had to happen because everything is in position. We conceded a lot of points.
“They wanted home advantage, and Germany is home for them because that is what is where they have been most of their careers. They said if they couldn’t bring their own doctor to be in the corner, they wouldn’t come [to the UK]. That was against British Boxing Board of Control procedure. They knew full well that put the UK out of the picture.
“We made enough concessions to make it happen. David made virtually all of the compromises. But they won’t help Wladimir on the night. David doesn’t care about fighting in Germany. It doesn’t faze him him one bit.”
Negotiations between Bönte and Booth have been as fraught as the relationship between the fighters has been acrimonious. Their rivalry hit a low when Haye tried to goad either or both of the Klitschkos into committing to fights against him by showing their severed heads on T-shirts.
Klitschko was twice due to defend his titles against the unbeaten British and Commonwealth champion Dereck Chisora but withdrew each time, claiming injured stomach muscles. Chisora will have to settle for compensation money. Haye did not doubt Klitschko’s claim, but was determined to have first shot at Klitschko and rejected an earlier date that would have allowed his opponent minimal time to prepare after fighting Chisora.”The date had nothing to do with Wladimir’s stomach injury,” Bönte said. “The arena could not do the week before. We had only two dates from [broadcasters] Sky and RTL, the key players here. So it was always dependent on the stadium. In Hamburg, only 2 July was possible because of various concerts. I think two weeks later Take That play the same arena.”
Take That could be a fitting coda to the settlement of a rivalry that started in hype and, stoked by Haye, was elevated to bitter antagonism.
While Haye’s stunts are the stuff of professional boxing, the animosity between the younger Klitschko brother, Wladimir, and the loud Londoner is genuine.
Klitschko will probably start favourite but Haye, who has been preparing in Miami, says he has already worked out a strategy to beat him. If it involves persistent attack to Klitschko’s suspect ribs, it would not come as a total surprise.
“I’ve been training for this fight since the end of 2010 and it’s nice to now have a concrete date to work towards,” Haye added.
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