This fight started exactly as I had predicted. Both boxers were seemingly instructed to read my blog entry prior to the fight wherein I gave my keys to victory for each fighter. Haye tried desperately to get inside while Klitschko worked hard to maintain the desired range. This scenario played out for each of the 12 rounds with varying degrees of success for each fighter. What is certain is that these two fighters did not want to mix it up. They both were content to play the cat and mouse game all night and I think this is what rankled most fans. I didn't learn anything about Haye in this fight that I hadn't already known; that is to say he is a very good boxer with good speed, a decent chin, and a mouth that writes checks his body and heart can't cash. He's a really good heavyweight that has no shot, ever, of beating either of the Klitschko brothers.
I did learn something about Wladimir; once thought to be a quitter, robotic, unable to adapt and unwilling to continue when the fight turned against him - he showed flashes of resilience and determination that I wasn't sure he really possessed. There were several exchanges initiated by Haye that found Klitschko reeling back defensively, eyes wide and clearly flustered. And yet each time the momentum began to swing toward the desperate, lunging Haye, the Russian would calmly repositioned himself and fired off that devastating jab. He seems to have found a confidence that had been lacking throughout his career. The knock on him wasn't about his skills (nor Haye's) but rather his reluctance to take a chance and finish his man. He had many opportunities to take advantage of Haye's mistakes but settled for safe, but effective, stalking. He used a great jab, even better foot work, and an occasional powerful straight right or hook to keep Haye honest - and it worked well for him.
The fight was much closer than most media outlets like ESPN would have you believe. Haye clearly won 4 rounds and there were two or three rounds that were close enough to go either way. I had Klitschko winning and doing it the way I said he would - minus the finishing KO. This fight was ugly at times - see Haye's tactic of falling to the ground in clinches as a way to escape infighting - but it also was clearly a fast paced heavyweight fight. These guys threw a lot of punches for heavies - too bad for us that not all of them had TNT written on their gloves.
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