Let's get one thing out of the way right now: Wladimir Klitschko has no plans to retire.
Yes, Klitschko, 35, is now the unified heavyweight champion, having added the WBA title to a collection of hardware that includes the IBF, WBO and Ring magazine belts after Saturday's lopsided decision win over David Haye. Yes, Klitschko and his brother, Vitali, the WBC titleholder now own every major piece of the heavyweight crown, an accomplishment the brothers have made a priority since Vitali came out of retirement in 2008. If there was any question who was the top dog in the division, there isn't anymore.
But retirement? That's just not an option.
"I'm ready to fight again right now," Klitschko told SI.com on Monday. "I'm reminded of the words of [trainer] Emmanuel [Steward]:. Keep fighting, keep going, as long as you have joy and satisfaction in doing it. I feel I am at the peak of my game. I'm still excited, even more than I used to be about this game of boxing."
And why shouldn't he be? Klitschko has now won 14 fights in a row, dropping just a handful of rounds in the process. Haye, a loudmouth Brit who had been lobbing verbal grenades at the brothers for more than three years, was supposed to be Wladimir's biggest challenge. But Klitschko made the outcome look easy, bouncing that long jab off Haye's nose, mixing in stinging right hands and forcing Haye to fight defensively all night.
"This was a lot like the Sultan Ibragimov fight," Klitschko said, referencing his 2008 unification bout. "If you remember the comments from Ibragimov and his trainer, they said they were going to destroy me. They said they were going to take me out in a couple of rounds. Then the fight came and they played it safe. This was a complete copy of that fight. Haye screamed about how fantastic his style was, how impressive he fights. But when he couldn't get any of those wild swings through, he gave up on the strategy. Honestly, my sparring sessions were tougher than that. It was an easy workout.
"I'll give him credit, he was super fit and super fast. He was the fastest guy I have ever fought. It was hard to catch him. It was like trying to catch a fish in water with my bare hands. Every move I made, he was right there. He never lost eye contact with me. But he didn't want to fight."
Klitschko says he was puzzled by Haye's blaming the loss on a toe injury he suffered weeks earlier. In the ring after the fight, Haye ripped off his boot and did television interviews barefoot so the camera could see his swollen little toe. In the locker room, Haye snapped a picture of his foot and posted it on Twitter. At the post-fight press conference, Haye stood on a table and flaunted his foot for reporters.
"That was stupid," Klitschko said. "I was warning him before he got up on that table. "I told him, 'David, I have much more experience that you do. Don't do this, don't into the wrong spot here.' But again, David Haye showed his true character."
Klitschko says he has put Haye behind him. He was noncommittal about the possibility of a rematch, insisting he doesn't believe Haye really wants one. Instead, Klitschko has set his sights on the crop of young, unbeaten contenders in the division.
"There are a lot of guys out there for me to fight," Klitschko said. "Alexander Povetkin, Dereck Chisora, Denis Boytsov, Tyson Fury. I don't need David Haye now. You know, he doesn't know how to fight at this level. He doesn't understand it. I believe he was ready to give me a good fight. But he bailed out before the fight. All the talk, I think, got himself under his own skin. He's the type of fighter who fights great in the gym, but psychologically he couldn't handle it when it got real. There was too much public pressure on him."
Klitschko desperately wants another fight in the U.S. -- he hasn't fought here since defeating Ibragimov at Madison Square Garden -- and says he has the "perfect" opponent to face in his return: American Chris Arreola. Arreola, 30, absorbed a brutal beating from Vitali last year but has looked much sharper lately after slashing weight and committing himself to the sport.
"Let's do it," Klitschko said. "I checked with Emmanuel, he thinks it's perfect too. Arreola has more experience, he has lost some weight. I hope we can do it in New York. I want to fight in front of that audience. When I fought Ibragimov and [Calvin] Brock, a lot of people came. I hope they would come out again."
Now for some reader mail:
It's funny how you can rip Floyd (rightfully so) and not mention Manny Pacquiao's failures as well. Pac-Man is fighting all of Floyd's leftovers, which you gloss over. We in the African-American community can see your type from a mile away. It's sad, but, we expect such vitriol from the media when it pertains to an outspoken black athlete. Keep hating, and Floyd will continue to cash those checks! Lastly, I love it when he wins, because then all of you haters will have to back pedal faster than Neon-Deon in his prime.--Sel, Pasadena, Calif.
Why do u feel like Floyd needs Manny to be considered one of the greatest of all time? It's more like the other way around. Everyone talks about the list of fighters Floyd has fought and they always complain about his selections but no one says anything about Manny's list of opponents. His last few fights all have been against great fighters well past their prime(Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, and a disgraced Antonio Margarito), he hasn't fought a fighter in his prime since Erik Morales. And Manny really hasn't been jumping at the chance to fight Floyd either -- he's run from that fight just as much as Floyd has.--James, [no city]
Chris, thanks for your blunt comments about Floyd Mayweather. My wife is a Filipino, my kids half-Filipino, and I found Mayweather's racist rant about Filipinos offensive and disgusting. However, it seems the sports media lets Floyd get away with cheap shots like this. Why? I hope you continue to remind readers of this until the day Mayweather sincerely apologizes -- or Manny Pacquiao extracts retribution in the ring.--Brian, Gilbert, Ariz.
Why do guys like you hate Mayweather so bad? Paper Champion? Seriously? And with all the catchweight fights, fake championships (was Margarito really the 154lb champ), old guys, and Mayweather leftovers Pacman fights you don't call him a paper champion. Why is that? Is it because Manny plays the good guy role? Why would a clean fighter refuse more stringent testing for the biggest fight in the history of the sport? Hasn't it been proven that the NSAC's current form of testing is a joke? If you really believe what Bob Arum says then maybe I am wasting time addressing you.--Roc, Cleveland
Some strong -- really strong -- reactions to last week's column on Floyd Mayweather and his place in boxing history. Over the last few days I've explained my position to Mayweather's chief advisor, Leonard Ellerbe, and members of Mayweather's PR team. I'll explain them here, too:
• Manny Pacquiao needs Mayweather just as much as Mayweather needs him. I've never disputed this. In fact, in several Sports Illustrated stories I've said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that Pacquiao's wins from here on out are more or less meaningless until one is over Mayweather. But I wrote the column after Mayweather's press conference, where he said, flat out, that he didn't need Pacquiao. That's a statement I completely disagree with. In recent years Mayweather has declared himself to be the greatest of all time. There is no way, none, that Mayweather can be considered G.O.A.T. if he doesn't get in the ring with Pacquiao, a pound-for-pound peer sitting right in his weight class.
• I have no bias against Floyd Mayweather. That's ridiculous. When Mayweather-Victor Ortiz was announced, I was one of the first ones to say it was a better fight than people think. When Mayweather defeated Shane Mosley last year, I devoted four pages in Sports Illustrated to Mayweather's success. I believe Mayweather is among the most skilled fighters in the history of the sport, a transcendent, once-or-twice-in-a-generation talent. All I want to see is him showcase that talent in front of the man most believe is his only peer.
• The "leftovers" argument is idiotic. So Pacquiao fought Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Mosley after Mayweather. So what? Mayweather isn't Julio Cesar Chavez. He didn't leave De La Hoya or Hatton in the condition Chavez left Meldrick Taylor after his brutal 1990 knockout. He decisioned De La Hoya and knocked Hatton out in the 10th round. Should both have just stopped fighting? Pacquiao was a huge underdog against De La Hoya and his showdown with Hatton was considered a tough, competitive fight before he sent Hatton into retirement with a savage, second-round knockout. The decision to fight a faded Mosley was terrible but for the most part Pacquiao has fought tough, highly rated contenders in his weight class.
And what about Mayweather? Was Zab Judah considered Carlos Baldomir's leftovers when he fought him in 2006? Did he take Bernard Hopkins' leftovers when he fought De La Hoya in '07? And what about Juan Manuel Marquez? He fought Pacquiao twice before Mayweather beat him in 2009. The bottom line is this: everyone is someone else's leftovers, and when you fight in or around the same weight class there is going to be overlap.
• Pacquiao has done more to make a fight with Mayweather than Mayweather has to make one with Pacquiao. Toss out all the rumors, speculation and Bob Arum-fueled gossip. Throughout this on-again, off-again flirtation, there is really only one fact: Last summer Arum, HBO's Ross Greenburg and a Mayweather rep (presumably manager Al Haymon) hammered out a deal. Arum said it and, more importantly, Greenburg -- who has been instrumental in making Mayweather a mainstream star since '07 -- released a statement backing Arum's claims. Mayweather's team -- specifically Ellerbe and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer -- quickly denied it, but Greenburg had no reason to lie. At last week's press conference I asked Floyd to clarify what happened last summer and after hemming for a minute ("I'm not going to call Ross Greenburg a liar," Mayweather said) he punted, telling me he didn't want to talk about the past.
• The issue of blood testing is real. But I think Pacquiao is more willing to take the test than people think. Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, has told me repeatedly in recent months that Pacquiao is willing to submit to any blood testing schedule Mayweather requires, specifically the USADA random blood and urine test. And if you believe last summer's negotiations were real -- which most do -- then you have to believe that Haymon, who doesn't say Mayweather's name without checking with him first, wouldn't sign off on a deal unless he believed it would meet with Mayweather's approval.
On the issue of blood testing, I stand firmly behind Mayweather. Boxing is a violent sport where permanent injury is a reality every time you step in the ring. It's important to be sure -- or at least as sure as modern technology can be -- that your opponent doesn't have an unfair advantage. But if Pacquiao has agreed to take the test, what's the problem?
Re: your James Toney item, you put the words "press conference" and "real" in quotes, and you might as well have added "mixed martial arts." Lights Out has insisted on a special rule under which the fighters must be stood up after 30 seconds no matter how dominant one of them might be positioned. This would be like telling a boxer, "I know you usually follow that jab with a straight right, but in this fight we're allowing only the jab." After all, in Toney's foray into MMA last summer, he was on his feet for just the first 18 seconds before Randy Couture took him down and beat him up for another 121 seconds. Of course, I don't have to tell you this "fight" and its "fighters" are a joke, no matter the rules.--Jeff Wagenheim, SI.com
Thanks to SI.com's MMA analyst Jeff Wagenheim for this note. If Toney-Ken Shamrock wasn't a farce before, it sure is now.
So are you disappointed that Haye lost because a victory for him would be good for boxing? Please!!! This fraud talked his way into a 50-50 split and took the money and ran. How in the world would a victory by him be good for boxing?--Ed, Orlando
Well, Ed, I was under the impression -- perhaps a naïve one -- when I wrote that column that Haye could actually fight. And if Haye had backed up all his tough talk, having an outspoken, power-punching Brit at the top of the division would have been a shot in the arm for the sport. There might have been a rematch with Wladimir and a possible true unification fight with Vitali Klitschko. There might have been showdowns in the U.S. with Chris Arreola, Tomasz Adamek or Bernard Hopkins. Simply, it would have sparked a lifeless division.
"Damn. For someone who smack talks like I do, I was expecting a lot more abuse & Hate! Thanks for all the Love. It drives to continue on!"--Former heavyweight titleholder David Haye (@mrdavidhaye). Haye, who has said he will retire before he turns 31 in October, is reconsidering in the wake of last weekend's loss to Wladimir Klitschko
"What's the point?"--Wladimir Klitschko's manager, Bernd Boente, when asked if there could be a rematch between Haye and Klitschko down the road
"Haye is not even back where he started. He is in the boxing dustbin, damaged goods, not just beaten but discredited and paying an awful price for his lesson in humility."--Telegraph columnist Kevin Garside, writing about Haye's future
Five opponents David Haye needs to beat before he can be considered for another title shot with Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko.
Chris Arreola: Arreola (32-2) didn't distinguish himself in his 2009 fight with Vitali Klitschko, taking an incredible amount of punishment before the fight was stopped after the 10th round. Arreola, however, is a heavy-handed puncher with a granite chin who has looked sharper -- and a lot lighter -- in his last three fights.
Tomasz Adamek: Adamek, who will challenge Vitali Klitschko in September, is another cruiserweight-turned-heavyweight that has made some noise in boxing's biggest division. Adamek (44-1) beat Arreola last year and has slowly built a solid heavyweight resume.
Tony Thompson/Eddie Chambers: Both Thompson (36-2) and Chambers (36-2) have lost to Wladimir Klitschko. They are both, however, finalists in the IBF's box-off to determine the No. 1 contender for Klitschko's title. Thompson and Chambers are representative of today's heavyweights -- moderately skilled, obviously flawed. If Haye can't beat either of them, he has no business in the ring with a Klitschko.
Alexander Povetkin: Povetkin (21-0) turned down a fight with Wladimir Klitschko last year when his trainer, Teddy Atlas, said he wasn't ready. Povetkin is raw for a 31-year-old but a matchup with Haye might be just the barometer both men need.
Alexander Dimitrenko: Dimitrenko (36-1) is a European titleholder with only a majority decision loss to Chambers blemishing his resume. He's big (6-foot-7) and Ukranian. Call him Klitschko Lite.
10. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, whose promotional company has a stake in David Haye, says his matchmakers preferred Haye face Vitali Klitschko, not Wladimir. Funny, that's not what he told me last year.
9. Devon Alexander-Paulie Malignaggi? Pass.
8. Memo to Saul Alvarez: push for Cornelius "K9" Bundrage, not Ricardo Mayorga, for your next opponent. You will probably walk through both but beating Bundrage will give you one more piece of the 154-pound crown, which would make you much even more appealing to Miguel Cotto.
7. I know Wladimir Klitschko is upset he couldn't put Haye down. Why? Because the hype surrounding the fight brought in a large, casual boxing audience. Klitschko was hoping to make a better impression on them.
6. I like -- no, I love -- that Golden Boy and Top Rank are working on a Yuri Gamboa-Daniel Ponce De Leon fight for September. It's an easy fight to make and could start to build some momentum for bigger fights between the two promotional giants.
5. Welcome to the Club for Fighters Screwed by Hometown Judging, Cellestino Cabellero. That one judge scored your fight 116-111 for Jonathan Barros last weekend -- a fight in which you scored two knockdowns -- is criminal.
4. I think Kelly Pavlik might need more than one tuneup fight before he's ready for Lucian Bute.
3. Kimbo Slice will make his pro boxing debut on August 13 in Oklahoma. Make your plans accordingly.
2. Wladimir Klitschko on a Klitschko-Klitschko showdown: "It's not possible. We're teammates."
1. Floyd Mayweather's legal argument in seeking a protective order excusing him from giving a deposition in Manny Pacquiao's defamation case? He didn't have one. This according to U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks, who said "Mayweather Jr. does not provide any points and authorities in support of his motion other than to state that this court should reverse the magistrate's order."