News

Lennox’s warning to Haye on eve of Klitschko fight

July 1, 2011

Source: The Mirror.com
Writer: Oliver Holt

IT IS more than eight years ago now but Lennox Lewis can still remember the feeling of being caught in a clinch with a Klitschko.

Britain’s former world heavyweight champion fought his final fight against Vitali Klitschko in Los Angeles in June 2003. Shaken in the early rounds, Lewis rallied, cut Klitschko then rocked him. Klitschko began to grab Lewis to try to buy time.

“I hurt him and he collapsed on to me,” said Lewis. “It was like he was on me and I was saying ‘Oh man, now I have to push away 250lb and then throw a power punch’. It is just draining.”

Tomorrow it will be David Haye’s turn to feel the weight of a Klitschko when he faces Vitali’s younger brother, Wladimir, in their world heavyweight title unification clash at the Imtech Arena, here in Hamburg.

And Lewis, who will be at the fight as an analyst for Sky Box Office, feels the key to the fight will be whether Haye can avoid having his strength sapped by Klitschko’s holding tactics.

Haye, 30, is an explosive puncher but he is also a blown-up cruiserweight who could be vulnerable to the jab-and-grab style favoured by his bigger opponent.

“Both men are boxers who like to wait for their opportunity,” said Lewis. “David’s going to be moving, trying to figure out how to get in there. When he does get in there, he has to throw punches in bunches and then get out of the way.

“He can’t allow Wladimir to lean on him. That is one of the big mistakes a lot of people have made against him. They allowed Wladimir to slap their hands down and put his weight on them.

“Wladimir usually roughs his opponents up. His trainer Manny Steward will say ‘Rough him up, put your weight on him, push him back’.

“But David is pretty wise. He knows he cannot afford anybody else’s weight on him. He knows that would drain him.

“I remember that from when I fought his brother, so I know this is a big factor in this fight. He can’t allow Wladimir to hold him or put his weight on him.”

Lewis said he still feels in great shape and occasionally has to fight the temptation to return to the ring. He is not an admirer of Wladimir, 35, and believes Vitali, the WBC champion and holder of the linear title, is by far the more dangerous of the two brothers.

And despite the criticism Haye has had for refusing to shake Wladimir’s hand and vowing to decapitate him, Lewis feels Haye’s antics might already have taken their toll.

“It is funny because Wladimir is stoical,” Lewis said. “There is a stiffness about him. He says that David is not going to bother him and that ‘when I get in the ring with you, I am going to show you who’s boss’.

“But David is playing with him. He is saying things to him that would bother me. He is saying things in interviews that would make me jump across the chair at him. Wladimir seems like he’s handling it but he’s burning up inside.

“David could be psyching himself up because you can’t speak it and then not go in there and do it. He could be getting into Wladimir’s head, getting him so wound up that he is stiff in there or expels all his energy in the first few rounds.

“Haye’s brought excitement back to the division. Nobody has talked to Wladimir like that for a long time. Certain things he says is catchy stuff for the rest of the world. He is the Muhammad Ali of his era.”

Lewis pointed out that Wladimir had lost to fighters like Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster and that the memory of being stopped by them would still be “a chink in his armour”.

“Wladimir doesn’t have an iron chin. He has been knocked out by mediocre boxers,” added Lewis.

“So if David can get his right hand in there, shockingly and with power and speed, well, it doesn’t really then take that much of a punch to knock a person out. And David has the ability to deliver that punch.

“We know that if Wladimir gets hit on the chin, he will tumble.

“If you look at it on paper Wladimir is supposed to win, but my heart goes with David.”