It all started when David Haye walked away from putting a Klitschko fight together in favor of challenging WBA belt-holder Nikolai Valuev instead. When a second round of negotiations with the Klitschkos fell through, many commentators accused Haye of cowardice and claimed the Briton was running scared. Wladimir Klitschko himself is on the record as stating that he believes Haye won’t fight him because Haye is “afraid.” Now Haye has hit back at allegations that he is “yellow.”
In a YouTube video released on August 31st, Haye blames the failure to reach a deal for a showdown with Wladimir Klitschko on Klitschko’s unreasonable financial demands. According to Haye, he entered negotiations on the basis of a 50-50 split. Klitschko rejected that, citing the stipulations of his German TV contract. Fair enough, Haye replied, and offered instead to make a different kind of 50-50 split. Instead of splitting the revenue in a common pot, Haye would get 100% of the British revenue and Klitschko would get 100% of the German revenue. According to Haye, Klitschko never responded to that offer, essentially letting it die on the table. That makes Wladimir Klitschko’s de facto position one where he receive much more than half the money on offer. If he wants all the German TV revenue and a piece of the British action as well, then he wants most of the pie.
Given that Haye vs. Wlad is the only exciting heavyweight fight on the horizon, both men would make more money than any other opportunity on some kind of 50-50 split. By demanding the lion’s share of the purse, Klitschko is ensuring that Haye won’t make much more money than he would off of a more ordinary fight, and under terms like that why should Haye fight Klitschko? Klitschko might be the kingpin of the division, but the big Ukrainian simply cannot put butts in the seats west of the Rhine, and is therefore in no position to be demanding more than half the money.
Some commentators will continue to slander Haye’s motives, but ultimately I think Haye is telling us the truth or something pretty close to it. The reason is simple: there is documentary proof of every offer, counter-offer and response involved in this negotiating process. If Haye said something that was untrue, Wladimir Klitschko would surely come out with the documents to prove it, and then repeat his charge that Haye was running scared. He hasn’t and he won’t. The truth is one of two sad old stories in boxing: either the money isn’t quite good enough to make both men happy on fair terms, or one side of the equation (in this case, Klitschko) isn’t really interested in making the fight happen and therefore never negotiated in good faith.