By The Associated Press
HAMBURG, Germany – He’s only fighting one of them, but outside of the ring it’s David Haye vs. the Klitschko brothers.
The trash-talking Englishman will face 35-year-old Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday at Hamburg’s Imtech Arena in a heavyweight superfight with four titles at stake.
If Haye wins, there’s a narrow chance he could line up one last fight with Wladimir’s older brother, Vitali, before retiring from boxing by his 31st birthday on Oct. 13. Vitali is the WBC champion, the only belt that the combatants don’t own.
“Without a doubt, I’m confident I’ll fight Vitali in September or October,” Haye said. “Once I’ve smashed Wladimir, I’m pretty sure his big brother is going to try to step up to the plate to take revenge.”
In the lead-up to the showdown in Hamburg, both Klitschkos have been trading taunts with Haye.
“David Haye, great fighter. But he’s an unbeatable talker. He talks so much, he’s a trash talker. He’s world champion by trash talking,” Vitali said before taking a ringside seat next to Wladimir to watch Haye’s brief workout on Wednesday.
Haye has stopped at nothing in his attempts to rattle the Klitschkos. He’s called both brothers frauds, promised to send Wladimir to the hospital and stubbornly refuses to shake his hand.
Haye boasted at the pre-match news conference that it will be an “execution of a boxer” and he’ll “absolutely destroy him.”
Wladimir has been drawn into the war of words. He refers to Haye as “No. 50,” a reference to his career 49 knockouts, and has promised to shut him up on Saturday.
The fight is widely seen as the most high-profile heavyweight battle since Vitali Klitschko lost to Lennox Lewis in 2003. For the younger Klitschko, the IBF, WBO and IBO champion, it represents a chance to silence critics who say he hasn’t really been tested in an unbeaten run stretching back seven years.
Haye’s blistering speed and explosive power is likely to present the biggest challenge Klitschko has faced since rebuilding his career following knockout defeats to Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster, in 2003 and 2004.
The Briton must rely on combinations and fast footwork to avoid Klitschko’s right hand and getting into energy-draining clinches with the Ukrainian, who’s 3 inches taller.
For Haye, the Klitschko fight is also a defining moment of his career. A former cruiserweight boxer with a 25-1 record and 23 KOs, he claimed the WBA belt in 2009 by defeating 7-foot-2 Russian fighter Nikolai Valuev. But he hasn’t followed through on his repeated vows to take the belts off the Klitschkos.
A potential fight against Vitali in Chelsea was scrapped, and Haye pulled out of a fight last year with Wladimir, citing a back injury.
Haye has said he’s ready to take on Vitali this fall. That seems unlikely unless Vitali manages to get out of a fight lined up with Poland’s Tomasz Adamek in September.