In an interview with SI.com a few days before his heavyweight title fight with
Haye didn't deliver on those promises. Last Saturday night in Germany, Haye did what most expected him to do: he moved around the ring, stuck his jab in Valuev's massive midsection and impressed the judges with the occasional flurry to Valuev's skull. He even brought the crowd to their feet when a flush left hook wobbled Valuev in the 12th round, nearly putting down the Russian champion for the first time in his career.
What Haye did, however, was
After being vilified for pulling out of a scheduled match with
Haye understands this. While a fight with either Klitschko would have generated much more money in the short term, Haye is now in a position where he will be able to cash in on one title defense (a mandatory against
That opponent will more than likely be Wladimir. While the WBA has ordered Haye to face Ruiz before next May, Klitschko will be busy defending his titles against WBO No. 1 contender
A unification showdown against the brash talking Haye and the dominant Klitschko could provide a spark in America's flickering interest in the heavyweight division.
"I think [Haye] is interesting," said HBO vice president
After years of being protected by his promoters, Valuev (50-2) is now faced with the prospect of climbing back to the top. It's possible Valuev will wait and hope that Haye can't negotiate a deal with either Klitschko and agrees to a rematch sometime next year.
But at 36, Valuev may not be inclined to take that chance -- not when a potential mega-fight with Vitali Klitschko looms as a possibility. Vitali, who is scheduled to face American
Whatever happens in the future, the results of Saturday night is a huge win for the division. Had Valuev won, he likely would have done anything in his power to keep the title, including ducking a dangerous match with a Klitschko. Had Haye lost, his box-office appeal would have vanished and he probably would have dropped back down to cruiserweight.
Instead, boxing's most maligned division now has a much brighter future.