x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Wladimir Klitschko v David Haye unification bout finally has date

David Haye's world heavyweight unification showdown with Wladimir Klitschko was yesterday confirmed for July 2 in Hamburg.

Wladimir Klitschko, left, of Ukraine, and David Haye of Great Britain stare each other down during a news conference in London, previewing their title unification fight on July 2 at Hamburg, Germany.
Wladimir Klitschko, left, of Ukraine, and David Haye of Great Britain stare each other down during a news conference in London, previewing their title unification fight on July 2 at Hamburg, Germany.

David Haye's world heavyweight unification showdown with Wladimir Klitschko was yesterday confirmed for July 2 in Hamburg.

The WBA heavyweight champion finally agreed terms last month to meet IBF, IBO and WBO holder Klitschko on either June 25 or July 2, with several venues in contention to stage the bout.

Klitschko's manager, Bernd Boente, yesterday confirmed that the 57,000-capacity Imtech Arena in Hamburg, where Klitschko was once based and still enjoys massive support, beat out rival German locations and venues in Switzerland and Ukraine.

"I've been training for this fight since the end of 2010 and it's nice to now have a concrete date to work towards," said Haye, a Londoner, who won the WBC cruiserweight title in Paris and the WBA heavyweight crown against Nikolai Valuev in Nuremberg, Germany.

"Hamburg is an accessible city for a lot of British fans, so I'm expecting a huge turn-out for what is undoubtedly the biggest boxing event of the year. We're going to have an army of Brits invading Germany on July 2 and I can't wait to sample the atmosphere.

"I think every city in mainland Europe and beyond wanted to stage this fight, and that shows just what an appealing event it is.

"Personally, I wasn't bothered where the fight ended up. I'd fight Wladimir anywhere, so long as the location comes with a ring and a referee that can count to 10.

"By the time I've finished with Wladimir, he won't know where he is anyway."

Klitschko and his brother, Vitali, the WBC champion, are huge draws in Germany despite being of Ukrainian nationality, while Switzerland would have held its own financial appeal.

Boente confirmed the negotiations and final decision had been carried out in partnership with Haye's manager and trainer, Adam Booth.

"The fight will be July 2 in Hamburg. It is confirmed 100 per cent," Boente said. "We had different options and held negotiations in other countries. Switzerland was in play, Ukraine and different options in Germany.

"But it was always the case that Adam Booth and myself discussed all these things."

Klitschko, 35, has been undergoing protracted rehabilitation from an abdominal injury suffered in December but Boente insists the slightly later date was related.

"The date had nothing to do with Wladimir's stomach injury," he said. "The arena could not do the week before. We had only two dates from [broadcasters] Sky and RTL, the key players here, and it was either June 25 or July 2. So it was always dependent on the stadium. In Hamburg, only July 2 was possible."

The unification fight, pitting the orthodox Klitschko against the quick, power-punching Haye, is undoubtedly the biggest bout a flagging heavyweight division has seen in years.