x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Haye hoping for Klitschko 'mega-showdown'

David Haye now turns his attention to Ukraine's WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko.

LONDON // David Haye now turns his attention to Ukraine's WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko after stripping the Russian giant Nikolay Valuev of the WBA belt. The Briton, who overcame a colossal weight and height disadvantage to outpoint the towering "Beast from the East" in Germany, wants to add another heavyweight title but he is obliged to take on the WBA's mandatory US challenger John Ruiz before he can set about dominating the division. Klitschko, whose brother Wladimir holds the IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight belts, is scheduled to take on the American Kevin Johnson in Berne, Switzerland, on December 12. "I am ready to fight anyone in the world and I have right now the same belt as Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and George Foreman," Vitali Klitschko told BBC radio. "I am ready to show everyone that I am the strongest in the world," he added. "I am ready at any time to give him (Haye) a fight and knock him out."

Haye, who spoke of his desire to "clean up the division" after stunning the tallest and heaviest world champion of all time in Nuremberg, said he was up to the challenge. "Let's get it on, let's make it happen," said the Londoner, 29, who became Britain's first heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis retired six years ago. "He's got a fight in December, I hope he wins his fight and wish him luck with that one. I've got to get John Ruiz out of the way and then we can make a mega-showdown next year. I'm looking forward to that."

Haye had been due to fight Wladimir Klitschko earlier in the year but the bout fell through due to the Briton being injured. He had also been planning to fight Vitali in September until the Valuev fight was made. "Ruiz is the mandatory challenger for the WBA so if I don't fight him they'll take the title off me so I don't fancy giving up the title after winning it," said Haye. "So it will be John Ruiz (next) and hopefully that will be in the UK. I definitely want to have another homecoming fight. It would be amazing if I could fight John Ruiz in London.

"We haven't thought about dates, I've got to see how my hand heals. I've got to go and get an X-ray and see the extent of the break and take it from there." Haye said after the Valuev fight that he feared he had broken his hand in the early rounds while Ruiz, who fought the same night, suffered a bad cut over his eye and is also likely to be out of action for a while. Haye's performance, after all the trash-talking in the build-up, drew plaudits at home.

"I thought he had the talent and the speed and ability to beat the guy," said the retired heavyweight Frank Bruno. "It took a lot of guts to come from cruiserweight to move up to heavyweight and fight a man mountain like he did. And he stuck to his guns." Haye said it was a lifelong ambition fulfilled. "I said to anyone that would listen that I'd be heavyweight champion of the world. I am that now, so I've got a big grin on my face," he declared after a night celebrating with family and friends.

* Reuters