Hand Injury Means Klitschko-Haye Off, Will Klitschko-Valuev Take Its Place?

It looks like David Haye's big shot - and his chance to back up his big mouth - will have to wait.

As announced to the British media and now being reported by ESPN's Dan Rafael and the AP, Haye has injured his hand while training and has pulled out of his heavyweight title fight with Wladimir Klitschko that was set to take place in Germany on June 20.

The postponement or cancellation of the Klitschko-Haye fight robs boxing fans of the most intriguing heavyweight match-up in recent memory. The brash, trash-talking ways of former cruiserweight champion Haye had clearly gotten under the skin of Klitschko (and older brother Vitali), raising the very real possibility of a different Wlad than we'd seen over the past few years.

On top of the mind games, Haye's all-or-nothing style in the ring was almost tailor-made for drama of some type. He had the look of someone who was poised to either pull off a big upset or be forced to eat his words - and possibly a few of the t-shirts that showed him holding the Klitschko brothers' decapitated heads - in spectacular fashion.

Though the German fans are likely to still see their hero fight on the 20th, no one available on short notice is going to create the same sense of anticipation that Haye brought to the table. That includes someone Rafael mentions as a possible substitute, WBA titleholder Nikolai Valuev.

The Russian Giant was also recently left at the altar (for a second time) by Ruslan Chagaev. So Valuev should at least be in top shape, which is more than most last-minute fill-ins can say.

Let's not kid ourselves though: the boxing fans of the world aren't clamoring for Klitschko-Valuev. There might be some curiosity factor in seeing Klitschko actually go up against someone even taller than him, but that would quickly wear off as two guys who look like they should be pummeling each other start engaging in their usual tactical styles.

The heavyweight division didn't necessarily need Haye, but regardless of what people thought of his tough talk, there's no denying he brought a welcome jolt of energy to the proceedings. Since we're not likely to be getting that in a few weekends with Valuev or any other foe, let's hope Klitschko-Haye gets rescheduled some time down the road.

Update June 5, 2009: It's Klitschko vs. Ruslan Chagaev. Courtesy of Tim Starks at the always excellent The Queensberry Rules and confirmed by The Ring Blog, Wlad will face Chagaev on June 20 instead of waiting for Haye.

Since Chagaev is ranked No. 3 at heavyweight, the fight will be for The Ring championship, which Ring editor-in-chief Nigel Collins says should make the fight more compelling.

HBO apparently disagrees, since they've declined to show it. No word yet on whether another U.S. television outlet (Versus, this would be a coup for you if you could afford it!) will step in to fill the void.

Posted by The Franchise

1 comment:

uatu said...

klitschko would KO valuev fairly easily. Haye at least had the potential to have that one punch KO of Klitschko, Valuev lacks it.

all in all a major bummer for boxing fans.