By Brian Woolnough, courtesy of The Daily Star
DAVID HAYE doesn’t expect Saturday’s heavyweight clash with Wladimir Klitschko to go beyond six rounds.
"He’ll be on his back by then,” he says.
Such confidence from David Haye. Such self-belief.
To find out where it comes from, we have to go inside the mind of this extraordinary character. What makes him tick? What scares him, if anything? How on earth can he be so relaxed?
We discovered more late on Monday night as Haye relaxed at his hotel, with manager Adam Both and his backroom team. It’s Cool and the Gang on tour in Germany.
Haye said: “I have never been more confident before a fight than this.
“Confidence stems from knowing your body, how to do the job and being confident of not making mistakes.
“I am not sure if you are born with confidence and over time it increases. Getting results helps and knowing your opponent inside-out.
“I have reached the stage of my life when I know how to get the best out of myself.
"There was a turning point. I’d had 10 easy fights and began to believe everyone was easy. It took someone like Carl Thompson to show me.
“He said he was not one of these washed up guys. I cut a few corners, assumed he was over the hill. I thought I would turn up and blast him out.
“He beat me and taught me a lesson. It was the kick up the butt I needed. The pain from that defeat has driven me to where I am now.
“The last fight against Audley Harrison was too easy and that was a pressure.
“I had to get myself up for it and I knew if I didn’t win, it would be a disaster.
“This time there are no worries about pumping myself up. I only have to look at Wladimir to do that. My body is sending me messages.”
While Klitschko portrays himself as a good guy, with Haye you get what you see – a smiling, confident assassin.
Outside the ring, a nice guy. Inside it, a warrior.
He explains: “Wladimir likes to think he is a contestant in Miss World, everyone’s friend. He forgets that he is trying to knock someone unconscious by punching him in the face.
“I admit to wanting to knock him out. I don’t care if I look terrible, winning is all that counts. When I get in that ring, what I have said before the fight and in years gone by becomes null and void and irrelevant.
“All people care about is the sound of the first bell and the referee counting to 10.
“He’s probably thinking of something clever to say in the press conference afterwards. It will not help him because he is getting knocked out in the same way.”
Haye believes the planned intimidating tactics he and his men have used against the Klitschko camp are working.
He said: “The plan has been to get under their skins and they look like little Munchkins shaking. They are trembling and rattled.
“I believe we have got them where we want them. I loved to see big brother Vitali there on Monday at the head-to-head. Not knowing whether to get involved.”
Is there no fear inside Haye? Does he worry about anything?
“Not being able to perform, that’s what worries me,” he admits.
“Not being able to do what I want in the ring. That’s the only thing that scares me.
“Is my timing right, am I as quick as I should be? Not being able to fulfil what I came here to achieve. The closest I came to that was against John Ruiz because I wasn’t able to spar properly.
“My timing was out although I still had enough confidence to get through.
“Fear isn’t something I really think of. I wouldn’t go on that reality show, mind you, (I’m a Celebrity) and get lowered into a pit of snakes and worms. I wouldn’t fancy that.”
The capacity crowd of 57,000 doesn’t worry him. “I don’t see the crowd,” he says. “I only see my opponent, nothing else.
“The ropes come into focus and sometimes the shadow of the ref. A fight is a fight.
“When two dogs fight, they would be the same in a yard as in an arena. It is the same for me. I will focus on Wladimir, his eyes and breathing. I don’t believe it is in his DNA to be a real fighter.
“It is hard to say whether I enjoy it. There is so much on the line and at stake.
“I love the fighting and the sport. I enjoy it when I know my opponent is on the way out, when the show is coming to a close. There are more fun experiences to be had in life.
“But just the thought of someone getting injured seems to throw him. You can’t think like that.
“You have to be the one with the violence if you want to be successful. One of my favourites was Mike Tyson. He had violence.
“Yes, it spilled into his private life, but in the ring he had the tenacity to become a great and beat everyone in front of him.
“I need that. I have that. I love that. I can’t have the mindset of Klitschko.
“I am relaxed because I am confident. What makes me tick is winning.”
Haye says Klitschko will jab and grab, as he usually does. His arms are longer and he uses his weight and height to hold on.
“The small guy always has to fight harder than the big guy. That is why we need a strong referee. Wladimir will get away with anything he can. I must stop him doing what he wants to do. It normally takes him two rounds to get into a groove and they are going to be vital for me.”
It was two years ago when Haye first put the Klitschko brothers in his sights.
“Now I am fitter, quicker and more experienced – a different fighter. Two years ago I knew I had what it takes to beat them both.
“Wladimir panics when he finds himself out of that zone.
“That’s when he gets knocked out.
“I will be surprised if it goes more than six rounds. I’m doing everything I can to make it an exciting fight.”
He laughed when he said it. Haye has laughed and smiled a lot since he arrived here in Hamburg.
That’s his style. Confident, relaxed, laid back, a man who has great self-belief. “I have never felt like this before,” he says.
We have to believe him.
Haye v Klitschko is exclusively live on Sky Box Office HD & 3D on Saturday, July 2.
Book now on sky.com/orderboxoffice