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Wladimir Klitschko is mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more.
Well, sort of.
The International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion has had it with World Boxing Association champion David Haye's rhetoric and is demanding a fight against Haye.
He said the IBF has granted him an exception to his mandatory title defense against Alexander Povtekin to face Haye, who recently defended his WBA belt by stopping veteran John Ruiz.
Haye was close to fighting each of the Klitschko brothers in the past, but either pulled out with injury or negotiations broke down at the last minute. But he incurred Wladimir Klitschko's ire by wearing a T-shirt depicting Wladimir and his older brother, World Boxing Council champion Vitali Klitschko, with their heads decapitated.
"I am after David Haye, to be honest with you," Wladimir Klitschko said Monday in a telephone interview. "I have had enough of him in the past year-and-a-half. He's promoted himself very good, but he didn't deliver action. He [expletive] out twice. He was supposed to fight me, and then Vitali, but he [expletive] out each time.
"I want to be very straight and very clear: I am challenging him as a man, as a person, to have the courage to fight me. I promise you, I will knock him out. There's no doubt in my mind of that. He talks big, and he can fight whoever he wants, but no one will consider him a champion or give him true respect until he fights me or my brother."
Klitschko is normally cautious and reserved by nature and rarely makes over-the-top comments. Haye's nonstop verbal campaign has clearly done its job.
But it's also time for Haye to step up and fight Klitschko. He's established himself as the best non-Klitschko heavyweight in the world and a Klitschko-Haye fight would be a big boost for boxing.
There are few heavyweights alive that could give either Klitschko a run, but Haye is one of them. Klitschko understands the significance of a bout between he and Haye, particularly in the U.S., where fans and media have been turned off by a string of non-competitive title bouts.
"The sport of boxing, particularly heavyweight boxing, has been losing fans," Klitschko said. "With the lack of good names in the heavyweight division, this (adversely) affects the sport and it's what is causing some fans to go to the UFC to watch (mixed martial arts).
"That's why this fight is important. David Haye has talked a big game and it's time for him to get into the ring and back up his words. This is a fight the fans want and I want to say to David Haye directly, this is a fight that I am demanding. Prove your manhood, David Haye, and take this challenge to fight me while you have the chance."
That's definitely a situation that bears watching. Klitschko said he would be ready to fight Haye later this year.
"Any time, really, he is ready, the sooner the better," Klitschko said.
With that, let's delve into the mailbag, where I respond to your questions and comments about various boxing topics.
Steward was right
Wladimir Klitschko's trainer, Manny Steward, was right about David Haye. All he does is flag down a microphone or anyone who'd listen, and talk trash about the Klitschkos. Now he's telling them to fight each other, or one brother relinquish his titles to the other brother, and then he'll fight for all the titles. He knows those things won't happen. If he's the 'man' as he wants everyone to believe (and I think he's talented in the worst heavyweight division ever), why doesn't he line up the Klitschko brothers one after another; fight one in July, and the other in October, and be done with it. Whatever happened to Joe Louis' "Bum of the Month" campaign, where he lined them up, fought one, fought all, one month after another? I'm so tired of hearing the meaningless threats and accusations in boxing any more just to hype and sell a fight. I'd love to see two guys bold enough to fight for one purse, with the winner taking all.
A Klitschko-Haye fight is the biggest that could be made in heavyweight boxing now and I'm hoping, but not expecting, it to be done. Haye has convinced me he's a legitimate heavyweight. That said, I'm not sure he's going to be able to deal with either Klitschko. Haye would have a shot, because he can punch and Wladimir Klitschko has shown a questionable chin in the past. Hopefully, we see this bout before the end of the year.
Berto looked terrific
I was pretty impressed with Andre Berto in his win over Carlos Quintana on Saturday night. He's been stepping up the competition little by little in his recent fights and I think it actually turned out well that he didn't face Shane Mosley in January. What do you think is a logical next step up for him? I think he could use two or three more fights before getting in with one of the big three at welterweight. What about a fight with Clottey or Cotto?
I think Berto is one of the "Big Three" at welterweight, myself. I believe he's surpassed Mosley and, in my mind, that's saying something. I spoke with Dan Goossen, Paul Williams' promoter, this morning and Goossen insisted that Williams is still a welterweight. If that's true, I would love to see a Berto-Williams fight in the summer, assuming Williams gets past Kermit Cintron in their super welterweight bout on May 8.
Should Bradley be praised?
I heard that Timothy Bradley has agreed to fight Marcos Maidana of Argentina. How do you see this fight? Should Timothy Bradley be praised for taking this fight?
Quezon City, Philippines
The fight was scheduled for June 19 but has been postponed due to a Maidana injury. When the fight is rescheduled, though, expect a terrific fight and I much applaud both fighters for agreeing to it. Bradley is the class of the 140-pound division, in my mind, but there are a lot of great fights to be made. I can't wait for the fight and I praise both fighters, because this is exactly the kind of thing boxing needs to see happen more often. When you match the best against the best, as you have here, good things happen and the fans will support it.
B-Hop vs. the legends
How would an in-his-prime Bernard Hopkins do against Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Ray Leonard in their primes at middleweight?
Interesting question, Brian. I think the three legends would win, but all would be tough fights. Hearns and Leonard were welterweights in their primes, but each stepped up to middleweight and gave Hagler a great fight. Hearns, of course, was stopped in the third round in one of the greatest bouts in history. Leonard scored a controversial unanimous decision over Marvin after a long layoff. In his prime, Hagler was such an offensive machine, that he would have pulled away from Hopkins down the stretch. Hearns' reach and power would have been trouble for Bernard, in my opinion, and Ray's quickness would have give him the edge. All would have been intriguing fights I wish we could have seen.
Merchant a distraction
I have a lot of respect for Larry Merchant, but he calls fights in such a negative manner that it becomes distracting to viewers and even his partners (Jim Lampley during Round 7 of the Berto-Quintana fight). Do you think this is bad for boxing and its viewership?
I think Larry is great for boxing. Every broadcaster, just like every writer, has better days than others. Larry is willing to take on anyone and shows no fear nor favor. Whether you agree with him or not is another issue, but I like that he has an independent voice and freely speaks his mind. I think that should be encouraged and I commend him for continuing to do it.
Arreola not recovered
My pick is Tomasz Adamek over Chris Arreola when they meet in Ontario, Calif., on April 24. They will exchange and Arreola will be surprised by the speed and power the smaller man possesses and he will fold when Tomasz rings his bell. He hasn't recovered yet from the whipping Vitali Klitschko gave him. Guaranteed.
I'm going to hold you to that, Dave. I think Arreola-Adamek is a very intriguing fight. Adamek is probably more skilled, but Arreola is far bigger and does have skills. I like Arreola by decision or late stoppage. I'll be there to cover it live and I'm looking forward to it tremendously. And Arreola looked OK to me when he came back after the Klitschko loss to defeat Brian Minto in December.