It has been a long time coming since a heavyweight matchup has garnered this type of interest, but this weekend's contest between reigning world champions (that's an oxymoron to me) Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye, has the boxing world on notice.
From a North American perspective, and especially from an American point of view, the heavyweight division has been virtually void of any interest since the heyday of Mike Tyson. While the Americans were tolerable, at best, of Lennox Lewis, their love affair with boxing's most prized division has waned badly, and that is simply because they have not been able to produce a competitive heavyweight in years! Ergo, if the American's can't produce a worthwhile champion, then the easiest thing for them to do is dismiss the division and its champions. After all, they aren't American, therefore they can't be good, or for that matter, important enough. Throw enough "you know what" at the wall and some of it is bound to stick.
The reality is that this weekend's heavyweight championship fight is as good and as entertaining a fight that you could make in the division today. As a matter of fact, Klitschko vs. Haye would have been an intriguing match-up any time in boxing history.
OK, let's look at these facts. Since becoming heavyweight champion of the world for a second time, Wlad has gone unbeaten in 10 straight fights with 9 of those victories coming via the knockout. Among the list of victims along that way, names such as Samuel Peter (twice), Fast Eddie Chambers, previously undefeated Ruslan Chagaev, Sultan Ibragimov, and Calvin Brock stand out. While not exactly your Hall of Fame candidates, with all due respect, they were the best the division had to offer. The only other common denominator is that they all suffered defeat at the hands of Dr. Steelhammer. Let's not forget that all champions, in all divisions, have at one time or another suffered the fate of having inadequate opposition. Even the great Muhammad Ali, who established greatness with rivalries against Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, and triumph over George Foreman, also faced such undeserving challengers as Alfredo Evangelista, Jean-Pierre Coopman and Jurgen Blin. The great Joe Louis, so desperate to find a worthy challenger, embarked on what his promoters called "The Bum of the Month Campaign." No champion is exempt from this.
Truth be told, you can't be involved in the "Fight of the Century" in every outing.
Let's not forget as well, that in the event that Wlad crushes David Haye in a one-sided mismatch, the naysayers will still say that Klitschko hasn't beaten anyone good. Should Wlad lose, the same naysayers will quickly jump to their feet proclaiming that they told us all along what a bum Klitschko was. Poor Wlad is in a no-win scenario again, at least on this side of the pond.
As for David Haye, truth be told, his mouth - more than his achievements - have landed him this fight. In a never-ending verbal barrage of trash-talking, David Haye has succeeded in goading and ridiculing Klitschko into the fight. In fact, if Haye's assault in the ring is half as vicious as his verbal tirade, Klitschko could be in for a world of trouble. Haye has used every opportunity to ridicule Wlad at every turn.
If he has tried to rile the Ukrainian Giant, he clearly has. Will this have an effect on Wlad?
That's what we are all waiting to see.