By Nick Parkinson, courtesy of The Daily Star
DAVID HAYE is praying Vitali Klitschko comes through next Saturday’s WBC heavyweight title defence against Odlanier Solis.
WBA heavyweight champion Haye is set to face Vitali’s younger brother Wladimir in boxing’s biggest showdown this year on June 25 or July 2.
The Hayemaker’s plan is to capture Germany-based Ukrainian Wladimir’s IBF and WBO titles – then box Vitali in his quest to hold all versions of the world title before he retires later this year.
And if Wladimir, 34, fails to recover from the stomach muscle injury that forced him to pull out of facing Brit Dereck Chisora on April 30, Vitali will step in to face Haye instead this summer – IF he beats Solis.
Vitali, 39, faces unbeaten Cuban Solis – who beat Haye as an amateur – in Cologne this week and Haye fears an upset.
He said: “Once I’ve knocked out Wladimir, then it’s his older brother. I just hope Vitali doesn’t lose to Solis so I can fight him afterwards.
“The plan has always been to beat Wladimir and then beat Vitali. That way I win all the other world title belts and can retire as undisputed world heavyweight champion.
“But, if Solis gets fit and comes in hungry, who knows?
“Vitali is almost 40 years old and he’s not as good an athlete as his brother. He has grown older.”
But Wladimir insists Vitali – who was last beaten on cuts by Lennox Lewis in 2003 – just keeps getting better as he gets older.
He said: “He’s getting better and better with age and time. He came back and fought guys ten years younger than him for the championship, against Samuel Peter and Chris Arreola.
“Arreola is ten years younger than Vitali and he probably fought the best fight I’ve ever seen. He was fast on his feet and in amazing condition.
“I think with time Vitali is getting better. I see an improvement in my brother with every fight – he really enjoys the process.”
Londoner Haye, 30, and Wladimir have yet to confirm the date and venue for the long-awaited showdown, which has taken more than two years to make.
But they have agreed a 50-50 deal with Germany the destination for the fight.