David Haye has vowed to unify the heavyweight division by facing the Klitschkos - and claims the Ukrainian brothers would not be able to cope with the type of exhilarating performance he produced to defeat John Ruiz on Saturday night. Haye retained his WBA world title with a savage stoppage of Ruiz, who was rescued by trainer Miguel Diaz with 59 seconds remaining of the ninth round.
It was the first time the durable Ruiz, a former two-time world champion, had fallen inside the distance in 14 years and it was only his second failure to go the full duration. Now Haye has set his sights on a showdown with either Vitali or Wladimir Klitschko, who hold the WBC, IBF and WBO belts between them. The Ukrainian brothers have declared they will flip a coin to determine who faces Haye. Abu Dhabi has been mooted as a possible venue.
"My plan now is to unify the division. I'm going after whoever has the belts," said Haye, whose ambition is to unify all four titles by prevailing in the only two meaningful fights for him in the division, before retiring at 31 with that birthday arriving in October next year. "If I hit the Klitschkos with the same shots I was hitting John Ruiz, both of them would go over. "I'd like to fight again this year, in October or November. I'd take on the Klitschkos now, no doubt about it.
"I wouldn't have any qualms about fighting anyone. Look at my career to date - I'll fight anybody and go anywhere. That's something the heavyweight division hasn't had in a while, so it's my duty to make the best possible fight and give fans entertainment like this." Showing vicious speed and accuracy, Haye honoured his pledge to ignite the division with a spectacular performance that will have alarmed and encouraged his rivals in equal measure.
"My performance against Ruiz was a good one - there were plenty of knock-downs, excitement and drama." Understandably there appears little appetite in the Haye camp to satisfy a rematch clause with Nikolai Valuev, the giant Russian who the 29-year-old from London dispatched last November to seize the WBA belt. Only the hulking Russian would want to restage a dismal contest that was light years away from the fireworks seen in Manchester last night.
"Given the option my next fight won't be against Valuev. I want to fight who the fans who want me to fight," said Haye. Adam Booth, Haye's trainer and manager, stated logic will prevail, suggesting Valuev will have to step aside, while Haye's partnership with Golden Boy Promotions could take him to America where he has struggled to make an impact. "David is in control," said Booth. "Whatever he wants to do is OK as long as he wins."
For Ruiz, this could be the end of a career that has spanned 18 years and two world title wins. "Sometimes you realise that you need to move on with your life and maybe this is the time," he said. Compiled by Alam Khan, with agencies