Andy Lee’s coach Joey Gamache, a former two-weight World champ, was in Limerick last year and he had a concise caution for English heavyweight David Haye.
USA-born Gamache, who claimed World lightweight and light-welter titles in 1995/96, warned Haye to stay away from the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali – unless he’s developed a sudden taste for intensive care units.
But the Londoner wouldn’t listen, would he?
In fact, not only didn’t Haye listen, he ended up taunting the Ukrainian siblings by wearing a T-shirt with their two decapitated heads emblazoned on the front. As attention seeking goes he hit the target as the Klitschkos took the bait and flipped a coin between themselves to decide which one would have the opportunity to put manners on the English upstart.
Wladimir, nicknamed Dr Steelhammer, won the toss. Likewise, he’ll now put his WBO, IBO and IBF belts on the line against Haye, the current WBA champ, in a no-love-lost clash at the Imtech Arena in Hamburg on Saturday night.
Undaunted by the fact that Klitschko wants to tear him a new arsehole, Haye was back taunting his opponent yesterday, claiming that he’s going to make the robot, which he often calls the Klitschkos, malfunction.
Wladimir responded by vowing to give Haye a lesson in life and predicting that he will be having an excursion to a “reality rehab clinic” at the weekend.
“My name is Dr Klitschko, I am a therapist and on July 2 I am going to give you treatment,” he warned Haye, as he was glaring down on the Londoner with that expression you reserve for a zit on the end of your nose.
It’s all very entertaining and reminiscent of the uproar Ali used to cause when that part of his mind reserved for the creation of Superman cartoons featuring himself in the lead role was given free access to a microphone.
There’s only one difference – Ali was the greatest heavyweight of all time.
Meantime, Klitschko is trained by Andy Lee’s coach Emanuel Steward. Lee often spars the 6ft 6in power-puncher if he’s meeting a southpaw.
The Kiev-native has a formidable record going into Saturday’s duel, having won 55 of his 58 fights, 49 by way of KO. One of his sparring partners admitted recently that the tweety birds were still circling around his head three days after he walked into a right hook from Klitschko in training.
“I thought I had a fucking stroke,” was his take on that incident.
Haye, who reckons his hand speed will see him through Saturday’s showdown, has quieted down a bit over the last few days. Bravado is not uncommon when the guns are in the distance. However, as the cannon roar increases in intensity fighters usually stop thinking out loud.
Unless, of course, they happen to be Ali, who continued insulting his opponents, their immediate and extended family, right up to the toll of the opening bell.
I’m not convinced by Haye. He’s added some colour to the preamble, I’ll give him that, and whilst that puts bums on seats ultimately it’s just talk. I don’t even think he’s a true heavyweight. Cruiserweight appears to be his natural domain and he’ll be giving away three inches in height and reach to Klitschko on Saturday.
The British papers are claiming that Haye became their first heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis when he beat Nikolai *The Beast from the East” Valuev for the WBA title in 2009.
This is the same Lewis who won an Olympic gold medal for Canada in 1988 – if they can walk and chew gum at the same time our neighbours will claim they’re Brits.
Valuev, meantime, was an embarrassing ogre. Some of his punches were so long in transit they could have been timed with a sun dial. The last time I saw him trade leather I was half expecting to see him to leave the ring with his two arms outstretched in front of him.
All Valuev is short is a bolt running through his neck. One of the crew working his corner even looks like Igor. Having said that, Klitschko’s recent opponents wouldn’t exactly have you waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat either.
Haye successfully defended his title against John Ruiz and retained the belt again after stopping the woefully inept Audley Harrison in Manchester last November.
Given his inactivity – he hardly threw a punch – Harrison, who was booed going into, inside, and coming out of the ring, was lucky not to have had his purse withheld.
“Pacifism is an honourable creed but a man’s public pubic espousal of it looks less than noble when he has just inked a lucrative contract to go to war,” to paraphrase the great boxing scribe Hugh McIlvanney.
Haye believes his hand speed and greater mobility will see him emerge victorious, that he’s going to snaffle Klitschko. I don’t think it’s going to happen. You can run but you can’t hide in the squared circle and sooner or later the man from the Ukraine will corner his prey.
A snaffle on the day might not keep this doctor away.