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
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
"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:
Some strong -- really strong -- reactions to
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.
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?
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.
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!"
"What's the point?"
"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."
Five opponents David Haye needs to beat before he can be considered for another title shot with Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko.