In a move that sent shock waves through the boxing community, Wladimir Klitschko has pulled out of negotiations for a showdown with David Haye and has announced that his fight with Dereck Chisora is back on. When WBA champion David Haye signaled that he was willing to split the entire revenue pot for a fight with the WBO-IBF champion 50-50, most boxing observers concluded that the last substantial obstacle had been removed and the fight would go ahead. However, earlier this week the Haye camp leaked that Klitschko was laying on the demands, which was followed by yesterday ‘s announcement that negotiations have been canceled. This event leaves fans, desperate for a meaningful heavyweight fight, asking what happened, why and who is to blame?
According to the Haye camp, Klitschko received everything he could reasonably want, which should eliminate any reasonable speculation on the part of his critics that Haye does not want to dance with Dr. Steelhammer. In addition to the 50-50 split (a major concession when the majority of the revenue will come from the UK), Klitschko got the July 2nd date he demanded, and Germany as the fight venue. Great Britain is where this fight will make the most money, so moving the venue to Germany guarantees a smaller live gate and therefore less gross revenue. It also means the possibility of suspect German officiating. Most of all, big brother Vitali swore to fight Haye anywhere. To make the fight happen, Haye willingly gave way and did not hold Wladimir to Vitali’s promise. If Haye wanted to back out, he could have refused to fight in Germany and would have been within his rights to do so. He did not.
Then Klitschko started piling on other demands. He wanted the choice of gloves used and to enter the ring last. The choice of gloves is the sort of picking point the top dog uses to establish his position, so I’m not surprised Klitschko went for it. Entering the ring last is the perogative of the champion, and as the man with the longer reign and two titles Wladimir is entitled to it. Klitschko asked to have his own doctor at ringside, which is odd but not a deal breaker. No one should doubt that Haye would have eventually signed off on all of it, and even if he didn’t, the only demand Klitschko is entitled to is the right to enter the ring as the champion.
Klitschko’s people suggest that they did not actually scuttle the fight with Haye. According to them, Dr. Steelhammer will fight Chisora at the end of April and then take on Haye nine weeks later. That is a pleasant thought and a throwback to the way things were done in the 1930s and 1940s, but it simply isn’t the way things are done in modern boxing. If Klitschko suffers a cut in the fight with Chisora or an injury in his second training camp (very likely as he will have been in camp for four straight months at that point), it robs Haye of the first half of 2011. The suggestion is ridiculous and unprofessional, little more than a smokescreen designed to cover what is a retreat on the part of Klitschko. No one outside of Central and Eastern Europe wants to see Wladimir Klitschko vs. Derek Chisora, and even those German and Slavic fight fans would rather see Kltischko vs. Haye. The only people who really want Klitschko vs. Chisora are the Klitschko and Chisora camps.
At long last, the writing is on the wall. Klitschko vs. Haye gave Wladimir everything he asked for, reasonable or not, and the fight is not happening because Wladimir walked away in favor of fighting a 14-0 neophyte. The blame for this debacle goes straight to Dr. Steelhammer.