By Rick Reeno
Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward has witnessed a lot of interesting situations during his long career in the sport. Since 2008, David Haye has been pursuing a fight with Wladimir Klitschko, who holds the WBO/IBO/IBF titles. For a better part of 2008 and 2009, Haye verbally attacked Wladimir in the press, and even confronted the Ukrainian champion at multiple media functions.
After months of hype the two heavyweights signed contracts to fight each other last June. As the fight drew close, Haye withdrew with a back injury. A few weeks ago a video was circulated where Wladimir aggressively challenged Haye to a fight. Uncharacteristically, Haye never issued a response. Steward is still shaking his head because he can't figure out why Haye, after all of his talk, is now reluctant to fight Wladimir. With the exception of Floyd Mayeather vs. Manny Pacquiao, a fight between Klitschko and Haye is probably the second-biggest fight in the sport.
"David Haye is a little dog who was barking when he saw the big dog walking down the street, because the big dog was very respectful and was trained to stay on the sidewalk. And when the big dog had enough and just let loose and went running onto the porch after the little dog who was barking, the little dog went running in the house, closed the door, crawled under the bed and said 'oh please don't let the big dog down here,'" Steward told BoxingScene.com.
"He don't even want to talk anymore. He talks big time boxing and he's afraid to fight a big time fight. He's trying to find anybody who's won one fight in the last six months. That's what he's trying to find so he can say that he's got a qualified person to fight. He's a little dog who ran away when the big dog turned around and came after him."
"And he was the one who chased after Wladimir at two press conferences and after he got himself a reputation and got his name out there, then he don't want to talk about Wladimir anymore. I can't even say - 'oh I wish he would sign a contract' - because a contract don't mean nothing with Haye. He signed a contract already."
Discussions are ongoing to make a fight between Wladimir and Haye, but there are also ongoing discussions to make a fight between Wladimir and his IBF mandatory Alexander Povetkin.
An interesting issue has come up with Povetkin. The 2004 Olympic gold medal winner is requested the involvement of WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] in a potential Klitschko fight. Steward believes the request for WADA's involvement is simply "another excuse" from Povetkin to further delay a mandatory fight with Wladimir. Povetkin has been Wladimir's mandatory since 2008. During a recent interview, Wladimir's older brother, Vitali Klitschko, shot down Povetkin's request for WADA testing.
"Haye and Povetkin, they have no intention of fighting Wladimir Klitschko. I was waiting for something to come from Povetkin, something crazy, some excuse to justify a delay. This man [Wladimir] has fought in the Olympics and all his life he never had no problems. We're not even thinking about that. And after this they will come up with another excuse. Anything but get in the ring," Steward said.
Above all of the possible options, Steward would love for Wladimir to fight Haye, but unfortunately he doesn't believe the fight will ever happen - even with a signed contract. Until Haye is actually in the ring, Steward will continue to doubt his willingness to make a fight.
"I can't even say 'sign a contract' because Haye will sign a contract and he still won't get in the ring. He was doing all the talking and now he's got laryngitis. He should be standing up and responding to Wladimir if he was any kind of a man. Because he was the one who started it. I don't think he's going to ever get in the ring with Wladimir. He's going to look for someone in a graveyard, some guy who won a fight before he was buried so he can justify for picking him," Steward said.
"For the sake of boxing, I would really like Wladimir to fight David Haye. It's the only fight [at heavyweight] that can bring the international excitement because the both of them being so fast and explosive and they both have reputations of chin problems. It just makes for a great, exciting fight. It's been two years of arguing back and forth. I don't think we're ever going to see Haye get in the ring [with Wladimir], even if he signs a contract."