The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 33 | Klitschko vs. Haye Fight Night Diary (02 July 2011)

Leaving Proof 33 | Klitschko vs. Haye Fight Night Diary (02 July 2011)
Published on Monday, July 4, 2011 by

Saturday afternoon (Saturday evening in Hamburg, Germany) featured what was touted as the first competitive and relevant heavyweight boxing title match in over five years when incumbent Ring Magazine, WBO, IBF, and IBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko took on WBA heavyweight title holder David Haye after two years of failed attempts to get them to meet in the squared circle. Grantland contributor and former Ring Magazine editor Eric Raskin has done a much, much better job of writing a quick backgrounder regarding the fighters and the fight itself than I ever could, so get thee to the Grantland site and educate yourself on the fight’s history and why you should care about it. I’ll be here when you get back, don’t worry.

Back already?

On to the fight night diary!

Round 1: A thoughtful Larry Merchant says “the weather tonight is fit for warhorses.” Rain is coming down and an LCD screen in the background shows that the temperature is a crisp 14°C. Joining Merchant in the commentators’ booth is the voice of HBO World Championship Boxing, Jim Lampley, and former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones, Jr. The bell rings and here we go! Haye down early, but the referee rules that it’s from a shove and waves off the knockdown. Haye moving around, swinging wildly, not really landing. Wlad keeps him going back with his jab like most fans expected. For a guy with the undeserved reputation for being a plodder, he does a great job of cutting off the ring. The bell sounds, and the first round is in the books. I’ve got it 10-9 for Klitschko.

Round 2: Haye expending a lot of energy bouncing around the ring, but not really doing anything effectively, boxing-wise. Haye reaching and missing, he needs to do a better job of getting within range. Wlad lands a big right. Round ends with Wlad landing a great 1-2 combination that gets the crowd roaring. 10-9 Klitschko.

Round 3: Haye lands his first clean punch, a big overhand right that catches Wlad square on the temple. Haye talking trash. I wonder what he’s saying? Klitschko pushes him down in frustration. Looks like we might have a real fight on our hands now. 10-9 Haye.

Round 4: Haye doing a lot of moving and flapping his gums, but not really throwing a lot of punches. He needs to do a lot more if he wants to win, he’s not going to score with the judges with this kind of effort and the less he throws, the less likely he’ll be able to get in range to hurt Wladimir. Jim Lampley compares Haye’s unorthodox fighting style to that employed by Roy Jones, Jr. A brief but awkward silence descends as Lampley realizes he just might have accidentally insulted his fellow commentator. Haye lands a gorgeous overhand right to end the round and gives the commentators something to talk about. 10-9 Klitschko, primarily due to Haye’s inactivity and whiffing repeatedly with what few punches he deigned to throw. Trainer Emmanuel Steward is scolding Wlad in the corner for taking his foot off the gas pedal.

Round 5: Haye wobbled early by a combination. Looks like Klitschko took Steward’s instruction between the rounds to heart. Haye down from another push, although he was wobbled by a Klitschko left before that. Haye gets up, and he seems to be bleeding from his nose now. Both fighters still fighting very cautiously though, and the raucous crowd seems to have lost a little bit of its energy. 10-9 Klitschko.

Round 6: Larry Merchant says “so far, Haye is a better salesman than a fighter.” Yup. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Haye can’t or won’t back up all his pre-fight pronouncements about laying a hurt on the Ukrainian big man. He seems content to let Wladimir pepper him with jabs whilst he flits around the ring, throwing the occasional (and predictable) hook or cross. Haye down from another push, although it does seem to me like he’s falling down too easily. Klitschko gets a warning from the ref for pushing. Wlad is bleeding now from a cut on his left cheek. 10-9 Klitschko.

Round 7: It’s getting to the point where Haye will have to do something drastic. He looks like he knows it, too. HBO unofficial fight scorer Harold Lederman says, “I don’t know when Haye’s going to start a fight.” I think Haye might have already conceded, Harold. Wlad deducted a point for another shove that leads to Haye theatrically falling down in a heap. Unfair call by referee Gino Rodriguez. Haye keeps lunging with his head down and is off-balance, which is why he keeps falling down when Wlad puts the least bit of pressure on his shoulders. It looks like Haye has given up all hope of winning the fight via conventional means and is now trying to get Wlad disqualified by “flopping.” Excellent counter right from Wlad. I score it a 9-9 round because of the point deduction. Steward runs into the middle of the ring after the bell and tears into the referee.

Round 8: Larry Merchant says, “[Haye]’s wasting my time right now.” I’m not so sure Larry, we could be seeing an Oscar-worthy acting performance from David here. Haye falling down again and feigns being pushed after Klitschko taps the side of his head. This is embarrassing. I’ve never seen so many flops outside of a soccer match or an NBA game. Crowd boos lustily. The ref, who now seems to be onto Haye’s act, tells him to stand up. Haye should be ashamed of himself. 10-9 Klitschko.

Round 9: Haye lands a big right but doesn’t follow up on it. Haye falls down again from another imagined push. Larry Merchant asks, “can you take a point away from a fighter who pretends to fall?” Klitschko throwing his jab with increasing frequency and landing it with increasing accuracy. Looks like this is his best round of the night so far, but that’s not really saying anything. He’s still fighting extremely cautiously, even for himself, and I don’t think he’s hurt Haye since the 5th round. 10-9 Klitschko.

Round 10: Haye eating two, three, four consecutive jabs. Looks like Wlad has finally gotten comfortable with the range. Haye again falls down from a little shove by Klitschko. Dreadful stuff. Rodriguez warns Haye for flopping, and the boo-birds make their presence felt once again. Klitschko is a lot less active compared to the previous round, but between Haye’s flopping and low punch output, it’s an easy 10-9 round for Klitschko.

Round 11: I don’t know if Klitschko can actually deliver on his pre-fight promise to KO Haye by the 12th round. He’s hitting him clean with his jabs, but his left hooks and straight rights have been missing the mark for most of the night. Haye flops again. Rodriguez looks pissed off now, he counts it as a knockdown, and gives the Londoner a standing eight count, answering Larry Merchant’s question in round 9. Haye seems galvanized after realizing that he’s lost the round almost for certain, but he is still eating jabs and lazy hooks. Haye flops again after lunging and missing. Rodriguez warns Haye: “I’m going to count you out!” 10-8 Klitschko.

Round 12: The last round in what has been a disappointing fight. Wlad hit by a strong overhand right. He looks like he might be in trouble here. Wlad clinches for maybe 8 or 10 seconds. Haye trying to capitalize on shaking up Klitschko, but it seems like he’s recovered. Wlad comes back and starts throwing combinations. Fifty seconds left. It doesn’t look like Wladimir is going to get his 50th career KO. Haye probably wins the round, but he needs a miracle if he wants to win. Ten seconds left. The fighters decide to reward the people still paying attention with a late clinch. The bell rings, and the fight ends, mercifully cutting short our collective misery. 10-9 round for Haye. In what can only be a conditioned behavioural response to the sound of the final bell, Haye raises his fists in victory. Larry Merchant asks “why is Haye raising his hand?” I don’t know, Larry. Maybe he put money on the other guy. Because there’s no way he sincerely believes he won that fight. I’ve got Klitschko winning the fight, nine rounds to two, with one round even (round 7, the one with the Klitschko point deduction for the phantom shove), with a final tally of 117-109.

Verdict announcement and post-fight interviews: Klitschko easily wins a unanimous decision by scores of 117-109, 118-108, and 116-110. Between Wladimir and his older brother Vitali, the Klitschko family now holds all the major heavyweight boxing titles in the world. Quite the impressive feat. Looking forward to Klitschko’s live, in-ring, post-fight interview with Larry Merchant. Watching fighters who don’t speak English as their first language try to grasp, without the help of an interpreter, Merchant’s oddly phrased questions through his glacially slow method of delivery has become an entertainment event in itself for me. Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll have to wait a bit longer, as the German and British networks have to interview the fighters first, leaving us HBO viewers with more dead airtime.

Wlad finally makes his way to Merchant, and the champion quickly makes a joke about how his last fight on HBO, with Sultan Ibragimov, was also a no-action stinker. You have to love a guy who can laugh at himself. Merchant asks Klitschko how satisfied he was with the drubbing he laid on Haye, but Klitschko either misunderstood the question, or he’s being evasive, as he simply reiterates the Ibragimov comparison. Merchant tries again, but changes his mind mid-question. It’s like watching a stoned Elmer Fudd trying to interview Borat. Merchant congratulates Klitschko and moves on to Haye. Haye looks very subdued and lo and behold, he’s got his right boot off. He says he wasn’t able to punch effectively because he broke his right pinkie toe three weeks before the fight and motions the camera to focus on what looks like a slightly swollen digit. It could actually be broken, but unless Haye has the x-rays handy, I think most people will call bullshit. And even if it were a genuine injury, fighters have fought and gone on to win with much, much worse. I guess Haye just had to throw one more flop for the night.

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