Klitschko vs Haye: Confidence vs Arrogance
It is a very fine line that divides confidence and arrogance.
Which one is more effective in the sport of boxing; the silent confidence of an Evander Holyfield or the palpable arrogance of a Mike Tyson?
We've seen this storyline played out numerous times in boxing's rich history: James Braddock vs Max Baer, Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier I, and Evander Holyfield vs Mike Tyson.
In all three of the aforementioned fights, the pugilist who chose to use humility over conceit prevailed in their respective bouts.
On July 2nd, will the meek inherit the victory?
Wladimir Klitschko is no stranger to criticism. Even through dominance, the Ukrainian giant continues to receive his share of negative cynicism through scrutiny, and still maintains his composure to emerge unscathed.
His reputation has taken a beating due to a tactical and cerebral approach to boxing, while other fighters are heralded for using similar methods.
Blame it on nationality, ignorance, stubbornness, or simple dislike...there is no rational explanation for the public censure that this world class athlete has received for the decline of the heavyweight division in the modern era of boxing.
But, what initially seemed like a curse to the younger Klitschko brother has turned into his greatest blessing.
Since being ridiculed for losing to Lamon Brewster by way of "poisoning", Wladimir has won an impressive 13 consecutive bouts.
In boxing, is humility a heightened awareness or is it a sign of weakness?
In David Haye's mind, it is definitely the latter.
The Hayemaker has catapulted himself into the biggest fight the heavyweight division has seen since June 21st, 2003, when Wlad's brother took on Lennox Lewis at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, with his unique and abrasive brand of gamesmanship.
In the modern era of boxing, fighters have transformed the act of intimidation into an art form.
You could say that Haye's tactics are an integral part of the mental warfare that begins long before the actual physical battle takes place in the ring. After all, fighters and trainers alike admit that boxing is a true test of mental as well as physical toughness.
In prizefighting, what usually separates "the contenders" from "the pretenders" is a fighter's ability to be equally powerful in both areas.
That's what makes this fight so intriguing.
Not only is this fight going to decide who is more physically dominant, but it will ultimately determine which fighter is the more mentally assertive.
After analyzing the mental game of both fighters, let's take a look at their physical prowess.
Wladimir Klitschko has the height, reach and overall size advantage in this match-up, but will the Ring Heavyweight Champion truly benefit from this?
David Haye showed in his fight with Nikolai Valuev that he can maneuver in and out of a giant heavyweight's range easily while scoring effectively using his speed and overall athleticism. Unlike most of Wladimir's opponents, Haye is very skilled at getting low and effectively scoring on the inside of a larger fighter.
Then again, Nikolai Valuev is not the world class athlete that Wladimir Klitschko is.
Wladimir is deceptively agile and fleet-footed for a giant man, as evidenced in his fight with Eddie Chambers last year.
Smaller, quicker heavyweights, like Sultan Ibragimov, have found the task of catching the 6'6" fighter to be a much more difficult mission than originally anticipated.
You could say that since embracing the tutelage of Emmanuel Steward, Klitschko has become a complete fighter; improving his defensive skills while maintaining the offensive weapons that originally made him a big star in Germany.
Both men are genetic phenoms, and truly standout among their peers of the heavyweight division.
With the exception of Manny vs. Floyd, there is no more intriguing physical and mental match-up in boxing than Klitschko vs. Haye.
Who will you be rooting for on July 2nd?