By Trigo Egbegi
A Boxer’s career is often likened to the course of a river still in its formative stage when it bows to the dictates of commonsense.
While most rivers have their profiles well defined from source to mouth, there exist the unique few whose uninspiring snake-like shapes belie the majesty exuded at the point of empting their contents into the sea. Conspicuous loops in the course is indication that the river is enable to plough head on through and has, thus, chosen to avoid the obstacles in its path.
The boxer’s lot is far more demanding, though. Unlike the flowing body of water, a fighter has no choice than to face the scary obligation of ploughing through that obstacle in its path, if he is to attain his zenith.
David Haye is one such fighter viewing his fistic zenith from a respectable distance. The colourful ring artiste out of Great Britain looks every inch the figure touted to breathe fresh air into the world heavyweight boxing scene that has ceased to sparkle since Mike Tyson last electrified the division over a decade ago.
Haye’s overnight status is clearly a slight on the reputation of the Klitsckho brothers, Vitaly and Wladimir, who a critical fight fraternity has only grudgingly tolerated as the best the division has to offer. Between them, the two siblings from the old Soviet bloc hold the World Boxing Council, the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization versions of the title.
The knock on the Ukrainian giants is not that they cannot fight. Far from it. The sole blemish is that the twain lack the luster with which to ignite heavyweight boxing last demonstrated by a prime-time Tyson, still remembered for raising fans’ body pulse the moment he stepped into the ring.
It’s understandable the Klitsckho clan is held accountable, as the world bemoans the great American collapse after many years as dominant force. Neither brother is the veritable economic commodity that endears heavyweight boxing to investors as an industry.
It’s equally understandable that the world begrudges the same Soviet bloc for the strong statement it has made so far in the ten years, or so, that it launched the invasion of the pro boxing ranks as a sport. Even without the Klitsckhos, contenders from the East dominate the division’s rankings.
However, it seems most unfair to denigrate the skill level and overall ability of the brothers who between them have accounted for every challenger of substance. Its all the more unique considering that the Klitsckhos still look untouchable despite their combined 76 years.
Only 12 day ago, Vitaly, 39, brushed aside the challenge of Cuba’s Odlanier Solis in a manner still reeking anger and suspicion. In reaction to a request by many readers who watched the Cologne fiasco, I have replayed Klitsckho Vs Solis several times over, and not found anything, otherwise, to suggest the champions are ready to be taken. Much as I granted Solis the benefit of the doubt – regarding the injured knee – I’m still not in a hurry to concede that March 19 night would have witnessed an upset.
Neither do I see a changing of the guard when the speculated Wladimir Vs Haye unification comes up. Two weeks ago, Vitaly may have destroyed one of the two brightest youngsters in contention. Next, it is the turn of the younger brother to do same.
This is no outright prognostication, though, should Wladimir Vs Haye eventually come up. Like the proverbial emerging river, the Englishman still plays subject to the dictates of commonsense. I feel he’d rather play the waiting game until Wladimir is into his forties – by which period neither brother would be considered dangerous obstacle.
As much as I see Haye as underclog Vs any Klitsckho, I must concede he stands as good a chance as did a young emerging Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) Vs Sunny Liston in February 1964 in Miami Beach. That night, the world witnessed a 6-1 odds-on underdog abandoned the vaunted Liston sitting on his stool and unable to come out for the seventh round, while challenging for the title. Ali went on to greatness thereafter.
Like Clay, Haye is a brash, gifted young man whose aura can ignite the dull division. And, like Clay, he stands to soar to superstardom should he get past the Ukranian. To be able to win, Haye will need to employ his intelligence to analyze how Wladimir reacted the night his chin was put to the test by the South African Corrie Sanders, and American Lamon Brewster, respectively, several years ago.
For now, though, the whole world is waiting to see if David Haye will go a step better than Solis, and catapult himself to stardom.