In many ways,
But in many other ways, Klitschko's career has come up short. His right hand is potent but he lacks the savagery of a
Is Klitschko the undisputed No. 1 heavyweight in the world? Yes. Is he one of the greatest heavyweights in history? That is far less certain.
Recently, it seems, Klitschko has become determined to alter that perception. After years of manhandling mediocre opponents, Klitschko, 34, has set his sights on the one opponent that matters: WBA titleholder
The appeal of a fight with Haye is twofold. As the WBA champion , Haye holds the one piece of the heavyweight crown not owned by a member of the Klitschko family. And since Wladimir (the WBO and IBF champ) has no interest in fighting Vitali (the WBC champion), Haye stands as the only realistic chance of unification.
The other reason is more personal. Last June, Haye was slated to challenge Klitschko for his pieces of the title. In the weeks leading up to the fight, Haye went out of his way to insult Klitschko. He dragged the family name through the mud to the media and showed up at a pre-fight press conference wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with an image of him holding up the severed heads of both brothers.
"That shirt," said Klitschko's trainer,
Klitschko never unleashed his frustration, however, because a few weeks before the fight Haye pulled out. Officially, Haye cited a back injury but it was widely believed that the collapse of Setanta -- the UK cable distributor that was responsible for the bulk of Haye's payday against Klitschko -- was the overriding factor.
According to Steward, Klitschko was even more infuriated because he'd suffered a torn bicep in training and was willing to go ahead with the fight despite the injury. Indeed, even after Haye pulled out, Klitschko kept the date and picked up a knockout victory over former champion
Now, with both fighters idle after defending their titles -- Klitschko with a knockout win over
"David Haye is a piece of garbage," Klitschko told SI.com. "He talks so much [expletive] and I'm just sick of it. What do I have to do to get him to fight me? Maybe I need to give him some confidence. Maybe, David, you're going to knock me out. Maybe I'll lose my balls on the way to the ring. Get your pants on and sign your contract. I'll make sure you will get paid very well."
Klitschko's decision to go public with his frustration -- including making a YouTube video calling Haye out (
"It's been building a long time," said Steward. "[Haye] is the only fighter I know, that [Wladimir] ever got angry or upset with. He really feels Haye became famous by talking about fighting him and his brother, and then ran away. It really has bothered him and he can't contain himself anymore. None of this is organized. Believe me, he is really upset. You put him in against Haye and you will see more rage and aggressiveness than you ever saw."
Part of the reason Klitschko has gone on the offensive is because he is wary that Haye, a former cruiserweight champion, will look to the winner of this month's fight between
"He wants to fight Hopkins," said Klitschko. "What is that? Arreola? Adamek? I'm afraid he's going to get knocked out by one of those guys. Save your beautiful face from my hands, David. I'm really worried that he's going to get wasted in another fight. That's why I'm putting on so much pressure."
Locking up a fight with Haye, however, can't be made just by Haye accepting a deal. Klitschko is facing a mandatory challenge from IBF No. 1 contender
A potential problem could be Peter. His win over
A rematch with Peter, however, is of little interest to Team Klitschko.
"Who cares about Peter?" asked Boente. "The guy retired in the corner against Vitali and lost to Wladimir. Our TV partner in Germany already told us that they are not interested in the fight, that Peter looked too bad in his last fight over here against Vitali."
Should the pieces fall into place, Klitschko says he is eyeing a September date. He says he is open to the idea of fighting in the U.S. but industry sources say a stadium in Germany is the most likely location. While he admits he felt disrespected by HBO when the network passed on his last fight against Chambers, he hopes either HBO or Showtime will put up the money for a fight against Haye.
"This fight needs to be on television in the U.S.," said Klitschko. "This is my signature fight. I will show people that no matter who stands in front of me, I will totally break their strategy, break their spirit, and then break them with my left hand or right hand."
WBC welterweight champion