12 January 2009
By John Prendergast
A KLITSCHKO is still very much the target for David Haye's Heavyweight World Title bout this summer, but while Vitali was the pre-Christmas favourite to take on the Bermondsey man it now appears Wladimir is the more likely opponent.
Adam Booth, Haye's trainer and manager, told the 'News' before the holiday period that a verbal agreement had been struck between Haye and Vitali Klitschko and all that was required was to firm up the details of a venue and a date.
However the vagaries of the Heavyweight scene have very much muddied the waters, because when the older Klitschko was asked to put pen to paper his camp stalled and started suggesting Wladimir may now be the man to take on Haye.
A spokesman for Haye confirmed the bizarre turn of events took place, which has no doubt has been partly driven by Vitali's mandatory defence against Cuban Juan Carlos Gomez which looks set to take place in March.
With the 38-year-old usually fighting only twice a year at the most, and usually requiring a long break between bouts to recover, the summer match with Haye looks unlikely.
The Haye spokesman added: "It now appears that Wladimir has the clear schedule, and the Klitschos’ team are keen for him to take the fight. The only fight he has possibly lined up is against American Chris Arreola, but this is at a formative stage and no deal has yet been struck."
Both brothers hold four versions of the world championship belt between them, with 32-year-old Wladimir having the IBF, IBO and WBO to hang round his waste and his brother the WBC version.
Rumours are also rife that Wladimir is far from happy with the perception that older brother Vitali has been put in front of Haye as he doesn't fancy the fight. He now appears he wants to take the fight so he does not damage his legacy.
The Haye camp has already found the politics of the Heavyweight scene far more complex that the cruiserweight division that the Bermondsey fighter previously conquered.
In the negotiations to launch Haye's quest to conquer boxing's glamour division, they were forced to hold a press conference with no opponent after J D Chapman pulled out of an agreement at the last minute.
Instead New Yorker Monte Barrett was lined up for the November bout at the O2 arena a week later, which the Bermondsey man won in five rounds.
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