Haye-Klitschko: The best and worst
Ahead of Daye Haye's bout against Wladimir Klitschko, we look at the performances that will inspire each fighter, or encourage his opponent.
Haye's Most Encouraging Performance…
versus Jean-Marc Mormeck, Paris, November 2007, Haye TKO 7
This was Haye's first world title fight and even though Mormeck was a cruiserweight he remains the toughest challenge that Haye has faced.
Haye tried to fight off the back foot but Mormeck pressured him intelligently and knocked Haye down in the fourth round. Many had thought Haye's best chance was an early KO and he seemed to be in real trouble.
Nevertheless, Haye kept his cool, went back to the gameplan and Mormeck never really caught Haye again.
Haye wore Mormeck down with body shots and blows that peppered Mormeck's high guard before knocking him out with a vicious right hand in the seventh round.
It was this fight that proved that Haye's world-class calibre, and that he could hold his nerve in front of a hostile crowd.
However, Klitschko punches a lot harder than Mormeck, and it is a worry for Haye that the Frenchman's power had him down.
Haye's Least Encouraging Performance…
versus Nikolai Valuev, Nuremberg, November 2009, Haye MD 12
Even ignoring Haye's novice defeat to Carl Thompson, this may seem an odd choice given that Haye won the WBA title against the seven-foot Russian.
However, Haye only sneaked a close, majority decision against the immobile Valuev. Haye certainly put in a less impressive performance than Ruslan Chagaev's win over Valuev in 2007.
Haye was extremely tentative in the fight, throwing an average of just 12 punches per round, and he didn't hurt Valuev until the last round.
Given that Klitschko is much faster than Valuev, and hits much harder, the narrowness of this victory does not augur well for Haye.
Haye's fans will say that he got the job done on the night, and he did, but it was really too close for comfort. If Haye employs the same low-risk strategy against Klitschko it is hard to see how he will negate the Ukrainian's imperious jab.
Klitschko's Most Encouraging Performance…
versus Samuel Peter, New Jersey, September 2005, Klitschko UD 12
After losses to Sanders and Lamon Brewster, this was the fight which re-energised Klitschko's career.
Sam Peter was an undefeated knock-out artist who it was thought could exploit Wladimir's frailties. He did, sending the Ukrainian to the canvas on three occasions.
Impressively, and for the first time, Wladimir weathered the storm, thanks in no small part to the reassuring presence of Manny Steward in his corner.
Klitschko's critics maintain that he will panic under pressure against Haye but the first Peter fight suggests that this may be wishful thinking.
Last year Wladimir beat Peter is a one-sided rematch which demonstrated how far he has come but it was their first meeting in which Klitschko showed resilience.
That's not to say that Haye cannot knock Klitschko out but if he gets to him he needs to show better finishing skills than he did against Valuev and Ruiz. Klitschko recovered to beat Peter on points and he could do the same against Haye.
Klitschko's Least Encouraging Performance…
versus Corrie Sanders, Hanover, March 2003, Sanders TKO 2
Klitschko has improved a lot since 2003 but he has not yet met another opponent with the combination of speed and power that Sanders possessed. Haye has those assets, although Sanders had the additional advantage of being a southpaw.
Sanders stayed out of range for most of the first round, waiting for the chance to jump in with his big left. With two minutes gone Sanders took his chance and shook Klitschko, who quickly lost his discipline.
Sanders didn't need a second invitation and he soon had Klitschko down. Klitschko never recovered from that and three knockdowns later the referee stopped it in the second round.
Klitschko has since hired trainer Steward, the American who masterminded Lennox Lewis's success, and Haye will find far fewer opportunities to breach Klitschko's defence.
Even so this is the memory that gives Haye's fans hope that their man could win early and win big.