Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye: No deal
By Dan Rafael
Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and titleholder David Haye, on the verge of a deal for the biggest heavyweight fight in years, will go their separate ways again after talks fell apart Wednesday, Bernd Boente, Klitschko's manager, told ESPN.com.
Boente said the sides had agreed on the material aspects of the fight, including a 50-50 split of the revenue. However, they could not come to an agreement on a date and site for the fight because of conflicting schedules between RTL, the German network that features Klitschko's fights, and Sky, the British subscription network that televises Haye's fights on Sky Box Office pay-per-view.
So instead of fighting Haye, Klitschko will make his 10th title defense in a rescheduled fight against Derek Chisora. They will meet April 30 in Mannheim, Germany, Boente said. Klitschko-Chisora had been scheduled for Dec. 11, but was called off when Klitschko suffered an abdominal tear while training four days before the fight.
"I am very happy that we have found a new date for the fight so quickly," Klitschko said. "Chisora insulted me many times and that is why I still have unfinished business with him. He is a very good boxer but as a person he is a loser. Like I had [planned] in December, I will now teach him a lesson at the end of April."
Still, Boente said he was confident the Klitschko-Haye fight will eventually be made.
"I'm pretty sure the fight will happen. I'm very positive about it," he said. "We were close with all the details. It was really a question about the date and venue. We always have to bring RTL and Sky together as our main TV partners and then go from there. We hadn't gotten into details about U.S. TV, but that would have been HBO or Showtime, and I would prefer Showtime."
Klitschko had the option of rescheduling the fight with Chisora immediately, but when the prospect of a much more lucrative fight against Haye arose, the sides began negotiating.
"We wanted to do the fight April 30 with Haye. We had two stadiums available in Germany, and coming to Germany was not a problem for Haye," Boente said.
"They only wanted neutral officials, judges, referee, all that. That is no problem. We agreed on all the points, but the major issue was Sky was not willing to do a second pay-per-view in April."
Junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan is slated to fight April 16 in England on Sky Box Office, even though he does not have a set opponent.
"We asked them to change the Khan date, maybe move it back to May, but they didn't want to do that," Boente said.
Khan's fight is also slated to be on HBO in the United States, so those schedules also need to mesh.
"We couldn't find a date after April, not in May or June," Boente said. "Either there was no date for RTL or Sky or a stadium [because of the heavy soccer schedule]. We couldn't believe it, but that's Sky's decision. April 30 was the perfect date for RTL and for a stadium, but Sky never has done two pay-per-views in one month. Klitschko-Haye would be a way bigger pay-per-view event [than Khan]."
Boente said the earliest date for the fight they could come up with that matched the networks and venue availability was July 2.
Both sides were willing to fight on that date, Boente said. However, he said that the Haye and manager/trainer Adam Booth refused to allow Klitschko to take the April 30 interim fight with Chisora.
"They would not accept that, but Wladimir was not willing to wait another six months and have it be 10 months since his last fight against Sam Peter [in September]," Boente said.
Boente said Haye could have also taken an interim fight and then faced Klitschko on July 2.
"I think the fight will come, but too bad it's not now because of the date and venue," Boente said. "We could still do it if they would agree to July 2. We still have the door open for that, but Wladimir is going to have a fight in April. Haye can also do a fight in between, maybe the mandatory with Ruslan Chagaev. We are not opposed to that."
Boente informed Chisora promoter Frank Warren that they were rescheduling the fight under the terms of their original contract. The fight will take place at the SAP Arena, where it was originally scheduled.
Boente said the fight is already a near-sellout because only a small percentage of ticket buyers had returned their tickets when the fight was called off as they awaited an announcement of a possible rescheduling of the bout.
Chisora (14-0, 9 KOs), of England, was thrilled Klitschko elected to reschedule the fight.
"This news is a fantastic late Christmas present," the 27-year-old Chisora said. "I always believed that I would fight Klitschko, and my faith has been repaid. I was a bit worried that he might try and fight an easier touch, but I think I've earned my opportunity. I was gutted when Wladimir pulled out of our fight just a couple of days beforehand. But now I've got another chance to take his titles away. He's a great world champion, but his time at the top is well and truly up.
"My promoter, Frank Warren, has done a great job in getting me this opportunity because there was no guarantee Wladimir would fight me again after he got injured."
Klitschko (55-3, 49 KOs), 34, is still recovering from his abdominal injury and can't begin training until late January, Boente said. He suffered a 2-inch tear on the left side of his abdominal muscle near the bottom of his rib cage in his final training session.
Some have questioned the validity of Klitschko's injury because of photos published in a Florida newspaper of him on a golf course there. Boente said Klitschko, who has a home in South Florida, did not play golf, but that he is a member of a country club and was there taking publicity photos and doing some minor chipping for footage in a documentary being produced about his life.
Klitschko and Haye have been on a collision course for the past few years. Haye has repeatedly taunted Klitschko and his brother, fellow heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko, in the hopes of landing a big payday.
At a news conference, Haye famously wore a T-shirt depicting him standing in the ring with the decapitated heads of the brothers, which angered both of them.
Haye's taunts worked. The 30-year-old former cruiserweight champion, signed to challenge Wladimir in Germany at the 60,000-seat Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen in June 2009, but backed out weeks before the fight claiming a back injury few believed -- and one for which he never produced the necessary medical report.
Later in 2009, Haye was supposed to challenge Vitali Klitschko and the sides agreed to terms. But before signing the deal, Haye backed out and instead signed to fight titlist Nikolai Valuev, whom he beat to claim a belt in November 2009. He has made two defenses, knocking out former titlist John Ruiz and British countryman Audley Harrison.
All the while, he has talked about fighting one of the Klitschko brothers, but not signed.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.