x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

David Haye seems to have got under Wladimir Klitschko's skin

The Ukrainian IBF and WBO champion hits out at some of Haye's crude pre-fight goading, calling it "disgraceful and disrespectful".

Wladimir Klitschko, left, holds the stage in a press conference in Hamburg to get his point across with David Haye looking on.
Wladimir Klitschko, left, holds the stage in a press conference in Hamburg to get his point across with David Haye looking on.

HAMBURG // David Haye's attempts to get under Wladimir Klitschko's skin may have paid off as the build-up to Saturday's showdown intensifies.

The Ukrainian IBF and WBO champion hit out at some of Haye's crude pre-fight goading, condemning the Londoner's "disgraceful and disrespectful" comments about executions, decapitations and ambulances.

Haye's trash talking is two-fold as be bids to promote the fight and also lure his arch-rival into a scrap rather than a boxing match in Hamburg.

Yesterday's final press conference was unsurprisingly compelling and 30-year-old WBA champion Haye's latest tasteless soundbite appears to have finally got Klitschko angry.

"This is going to be the most brutal execution of a boxer that you've seen for many, many years," he said. "I'm going to go out there and absolutely destroy him, really quickly."

Klitschko, 35, told Press Association Sport: "No matter what, it is disgraceful and disrespectful for a man to wish to damage your health.

"This game, this sport, is very intense and unfortunately there have been a lot of cases where people have been handicapped and people have died during and after fights.

"It's not something you can joke about to promote yourself.

"It's something you do not say. I felt embarrassed at the way David Haye acted in the press conference. Because it also casts a shadow on the sport.

"I just feel an obligation to give him some rehabilitation on July 2 because it will make him a better person.

"It's very important to put his feet back on the ground. I think with all the wins that he got recently he became really cocky and totally big-headed.

"I'm angry for the last three years but it has transformed into concentration and motivation now."

The buzz around the fight continues to increase with around 8,000 Britons heading for Hamburg and Sky Box Office drawing huge interest for a fight which is long overdue.

The pair's rivalry has run for three years — they were due to meet originally in June 2009 — and Haye said yesterday: "A lot of people didn't think it would get this far and thought I would pull out with an injury or something.

"But I'm here. I'm in tremendous shape and I'm ready to do what I always promised I'd do.

"Wladimir is in great shape, he's mentally prepared and for me that's tremendous.

"It's going to be fun to watch this big robot start malfunctioning. That's exactly what's going to happen.

"I'm healthy, my speed is ridiculous, my punch power is there and I'm in a really good place."

Haye's renowned self-promotional skills helped him secure a unification bout with Wladimir Klitschko and he now hopes his tactics have won him the psychological war ahead of Saturday's unification bout.

Here are some of the Londoner's more memorable publicity stunts during the long-running feud:

02 ambush

World cruiserweight champion Haye is looking to make waves in the heavyweight division in 2008 and hears of Klitschko's presence at an event at the 02 Arena in Greenwich. Seizing his chance, the brash upstart ambushes Klitschko in front of the cameras and calls out the champion, successfully setting the wheels in motion.

The infamous t-shirt

Haye produces a T-shirt emblazoned with a mocked-up image of him holding aloft the severed, bloody heads of Klitschko and his elder brother Vitali. The stunt genuinely riles the brothers but also slightly tarnishes Haye's reputation.

Social network slurs

Throughout the the three-year saga Haye's reputation as the world's pound-for-pound trash-talking champion is further enhanced by regular unpleasant jibes on Twitter, ranging from crude play-on wording to violent boasts about seriously hurting his nemesis.

Unsportsmanlike conduct

With the fight against Wladimir finally secured, the pair embark on their promotional tour. Haye refuses Wladimir's handshake every time it is offered in an unsophisticated attempt to fan the flames further.

iPhone App

Haye, ever the entrepreneur, introduces a game to the burgeoning smartphone "app" market called David Haye's Knockout, with users playing as Haye aiming to knock the head off a giant eastern European. Though crude, the game sells well and garners yet more headlines.