Time for Klitschko and Haye to swap insults for punches

David Haye, left, with Wladimir Klitschko
David Haye, left, with Wladimir Klitschko
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The hype has been deafening for weeks.

Now David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko are at last ready to swap punches instead of insults this Saturday in Hamburg.

Here are the vital questions surrounding the big world heavyweight unification battle.

WHY IS THE FIGHT SO BIG?

Because the dying world heavyweight division has been crying out for a proper title fight and Londoner Haye brings power, speed and charisma to the table.

Plus, he is the WBA champion, while Klitschko holds the rival IBF and WBO versions of the crown.

It is a fight that has even excited American TV giants HBO, who have been shunning the heavyweight scene for years.

The only other heavyweight in the mix is Vlad’s brother Vitali Klitschko, who is WBC champion and the most formidable in my opinion.

ISN’T HAYE UP AGAINST IT?

Yes. He is a 15st 8lb man going with a 17-stone-plus fighter who has a height and reach massive advantage.

Haye will expect no favours in Germany, where Klitschko is a hero with huge support.

THE BUILD-UP HAS BEEN TASTY, HASN’T IT?

Haye was public-enemy No1 in Germany from the moment he wore a T-shirt depicting the Klitschko brothers with severed heads.

Very tasteless, but it is Haye’s way of selling tickets.

Klitschko promises to punish him for his ‘dirty mouth’.

Fact is they are making a lot of money together in pay-per-view sales.

But the mutual dislike is genuine.

SO DOES OUR MAN NEED A KNOCKOUT WIN?

Probably. But he is capable of doing that if he can get past Klitschko’s long left jab and booming right hand.

HOW DOES HE DO THAT?

Using speed, variety and his clearly demonstrated punch power.

Even giving away seven stone to man mountain Nicolai Valuev, Haye nearly knocked him out in the final round.

He has floored and hurt nearly every opponent he has faced.

WHAT ABOUT KLITSCHKO’S

CHIN?

He has down about nine times in his career, so he is far from bomb-proof.

But it must be said that in the past six years he has improved and become very adept at keeping fights at range and just never letting rivals get near him.

If necessary, he will just grab hold to prevent an opponent getting on to the inside.

AND ISN’T HAYE VULNERABLE, TOO?

Yes. He was floored by four opponents.

But apart from an early career setback against Carl Thompson, he has always got up to win.

WHAT ABOUT THE TRAINERS?

Klitschko has the old master Emmanuel Steward, who handled Lennox Lewis and Thomas ‘The Hit Man’ Hearns among many others.

Haye’s trainer Adam Booth is less experienced, but has proved himself a master strategist already and his bond with Haye is unbreakable.

His fight plan will be sound.

SO WHAT ARE THE TACTICS?

A key point in this fight is the mentality of the two fighters.

Klitschko is a great athlete and technician, but gives the impression of being gun shy and might not react well if Haye can drag him into a trench warfare sort of battle.

The Londoner loves a tear-up and is the more instinctive fighter of the two.

Haye has to let Klitschko taste his power early on to plant some doubts – but he can not be too gung-ho or get careless doing it.

CAN HAYE DO ALL THAT?

Only possibly. There is a real danger that, like so many Klitschko opponents, he will just get stuck on the end of the jab and be frustrated into making mistakes while the Ukrainian builds rhythm and confidence while stacking up the points.

This could force Haye to then get desperate and careless as he tries to find a breakthrough.

A PREDICTION?

Most judges are going for Klitschko, and with size and hometown advantages, you can see why. He is a worthy favourite.

But Haye has confounded critics before with big away world title wins against Jean Marc Mormeck in France and Valuev in Germany.

In my mind, the memory lingers of Klitschko being knocked out in two rounds by South African Corey Sanders and floored twice by the lumbering Sam Peter.

Haye has the speed to get to him, hurt him and knock him out.

But he needs to be bold early on.

The first three rounds will be vital.