With Wladimir Klitschko – David Haye Off, The Division Continues Its Spiral Deeper Into The Abyss

Just when it was on the verge of doing something nice with itself, the heavyweight division has moved from an F to an F- to an F–*, now that the Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye are no longer scheduled to fight June 20.

The demise of Klitschko-Haye has a ripple effect throughout the whole dysfunctional weight class, and there’s some related nausea-inducing business from the fallout of the cancelled Ruslan Chagaev-Nicolay Valuev rematch. Let’s take a ride on the haunted merry-go-round of horrors!

Here are the various options for June 20, the date of Klitschko-Haye before Haye’s injury, and the near future. Klitschko’s people say they’ve heard from 20 willing opponents who want to step in to replace Haye.

  • Klitshko-Haye: It’s not a foregone conclusion that Haye won’t still be next for Klitschko. The question, reportedly, is whether his still-undisclosed injury will only take a few weeks to heal, because Klitschko, to his credit, is a fighter who stays busy and is eager to end his relatively lengthy layoff. He also has a bunch of mandatory challenger obligations since he has several belts. The injury is extremely ill-timed for the British network Setanta, which is having money trouble and forked over a lot of dough for the fight, and there don’t appear to be many dates in July on HBO, which was going to broadcast the fight here. The money may not be the same if it’s rescheduled…?
  • Klitschko-Arreola: Klitschko says his choice would be Chris Arreola. But I think we all know that if we knocked on his door right now, Arreola would be too buried under burrito wrappers and his own hibernation-like levels of blubber to answer the door. So Arreola’s promoter, Dan Goossen, is saying no, he won’t be ready by June 20.
  • Klitschko-Toney: However, Goossen says James Toney has stayed in shape and would be ready to go. Toney hardly ever GETS in shape. I doubt he’s STAYED in shape. Also it sounds like he has brain damage and I never fancied the idea of snuff films.
  • Klitschko-Valuev: I tricked you! Valuev isn’t saying he wants Wladimir Klitschko; he wants Vitali. That’s about as good a fight you could probably make for Vitali, actually, from the standpoint of demand. I just think it’s funny that all the headlines are about Wladimir wanting an opponent, and Valuev has just wasted a training camp after the Chagaev fight fell apart, and a fight that makes perfect sense in Wladimir-Nicolay isn’t apparently on Valuev’s radar. But then, Valuev’s promoter acknowledged he didn’t want a substitute opponent last weekend if he was a right-hander, since he’d been training for a southpaw, so taking on Wladimir on short notice must be out of the question. How weak is that? I’ll hand another “exceeding expectations bonus point” to Wladimir here, because he really does seem to want to get his hands on the best possible replacement foe he can, no matter his style. And that’s what we’re giving bonus points for in the heavyweight division these days.
  • Klitschko-Chagaev: No one from the Klitschko team seems to be talking about this, but the press is speculating about Chagaev. I’ll say this for Valuev’s skittishness: I wouldn’t get in the ring with a guy who’d tested positive for even a molecule of hepatitis. On the other hand, German doctors, in contrast to Finnish doctors, gave Chagaev a clean bill of health, so in theory the fight can happen. Still. Hepatitis.
  • Klitschko-Chambers/Dimitrenko: Chambers and Dimitrenko are currently training to fight one another in early July for a mandatory title shot at Klitschko. This fight, therefore, makes perhaps the most sense of all of the substitutes.
  • Klitschko-Minto: Brian Minto is a fun fighter, but unless 1st round knockouts of overmatched opponents are your bag, I pray Klitschko doesn’t accept his invitation to replace Haye.
  • Klitschko-Solis: Odlanier Solis wants some. He points out that he once KO’d Haye as an amateur, so it would be an upgrade. Solis is a better option than some of these guys — despite being a member of the Legion Of Fatties that largely populates this list — but he’s too green for Klitschko right now from a name standpoint. 
  • Klitschko-Johnson: Kevin Johnson is probably never going to be hotter than he is now, so why not? He looked very good in his last fight. Would he beat Klitschko? Nah. But who here would? I still would give Haye a chance, or Vitali, but those are inherently not viable.
  • Klitschko-Povetkin: With Klitschko obliged by one of his title belts to fight Povetkin by September or give up the trinket, this fight, too, makes as much sense as it is capable of. But for some reason, it doesn’t seem to be on the map. I guess Povetkin hasn’t been in training and wouldn’t be ready…?
Wow, am I DEPRESSED about Klitschko-Haye falling through after typing all that up. I was really looking forward to that shootout.
*I’d given the division an F in yesterday’s “grading the divisions,” but friend-of-the-site Chris downgraded it to F-. There’s been subsequent talk around these parts whether today’s news on Klitschko-Haye should add yet more minuses to the Fs. (Oh, and I’ve updated the rankings with everyone’s feedback. Thanks for that.)

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.