Mind games play a big part in boxing, certain fighters can handle the pressure better then others. It's a demon, or sometimes a blessing, that all boxers have to face. Some fighters thrive off it, while others crumble. Mental strength is of key importance in the hurt business, and when your the main attraction of an event that will be watched world wide by millions of people, multiply the mental toughness needed to perform on the night by 100.
We have seen it many times in previous eras of boxing. Fighters that are so intimidating that there opponents were beaten before they even stepped into the ring. The names Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston, and Geroge Foreman spring to mind. Intimidation is only one part to this complex puzzle. Mention the name Muhammad Ali and you don't think he was intimidating, he didn't look mean and nasty, but Ali was the undisputed champion of mind games. His confidence was a key factor, outside the ring, and inside while he was fighting. It came naturally to Muhammad Ali, he knew how to get under an opponents skin, and he knew how to use it to his advantage.
Back to the modern day, and the fight between David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko. Recent events have have raised a few eyebrows. people are saying that David Haye looked scared and nervous at the first press conference in Hamburg, but I believe this was just down to tiredness and shouldn't be analyised with a fine tooth comb. Saying that, Haye has stated that all his early antics, like the decapitated heads on the t-shirts and all the bad mouthing were just done to get the fight to happen, and now he has the fight signed it's going to be all business. Haye said he has no need to disrespect the Klitschko's any longer because he's got what he wanted, the fights signed and he'll do his talking in the ring.
However, In the second press conference, which was held in London, Haye was more his usual self, making jokes about Wladimirs boring boxing style, and calling him a fake champion. It's common knowledge that Sky Sports were getting concerned because Haye wasn't selling the fight as they would have liked and told him to say a few things in retaliation to Wladimir's comments.
|Wladimir and Haye go head to head. Photo Credit: JRfotography|
In both press conferences, Wladimir Klitschko has been in superb form, he looks very confident, and has been full of funny comments aimed at David Haye. Wladimir was making fun of Haye's tweeting, and was confident that David Haye will be his 50th knockout victim. Wladimir also went on to say that he watched the video footage of David Haye sparring with some of his past sparring partners, one of those sparring partners being Tony Thompson, and that Haye was dropped a few times. Maybe this is why Wladimir is so confident of winning this fight. While Wladimir is a true professional and knows boxing inside out, could this confidence give Wladimir a false sense of security, thinking he can go in with Haye and do the same thing, only to leave himself open and get caught with a Trademark Hayemaker. Sparring is not the same as a real boxing match in front of the whole civilised world, also add the WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO, and Ring Magazine Titles that will be on the line, and you get a fighter in David Haye that could potentially turn up and perform 50% better then he really is on the night.
David Haye is the fastest, most athletic, and naturally gifted boxer that Wladimir has faced for quite some time. But there's no denying, there could be a difference in class between Haye and Wladimir. David Haye has only had a handful of fights at heavyweight, and all of the fighters were at a disadvantage, whether it be age, ability, or movement. With Wladimir, Haye is facing a true heavyweight athlete, who is on top of his game, packs serious heavyweight power, and has a tried and tested boxing style, that in recent years has beaten everyone that has stood in it's way.
Who's Winning The Mental Battle So Far?
I believe that Wladimir Klitschko has a slight mental edge over David Haye, just because of how unfazed Wladimir seems by David Haye, and because Haye knows how unfazed Wladimir is. This gives Haye the mindset that nothing he does in the build up will affect Wladimir's performance. Wladimir's seen and heard it all before. Haye knows this and it has made him slightly more reserved then usual. Haye's got what he wanted and now he just want's to get on with the important stuff. Training and preperation.
David Haye should not be underestimated because he's not being as loud, he is a dark horse, and although I believe no matter what he says about Wladimir being boring and a fraud, he knows he's facing a supreme heavyweight and is more concerned then usual, which is the right way to be in order to prepare mentally and physically for the tough challenge ahead. In this case Haye's quieter approach shouldn't be looked at as concrete evidence that he's beaten mentally and will fold under the pressure. Haye is very strong mentally, travels extremely well, and will rise to the ocassion. Whether that's enough or not is another story. Tactics and preperation will be perfect for Haye, mainly because David Haye and Adam Booth are a winning team. It's the gulf in class that is the most worrying aspect of this fight.
While in many ways this is a 50/50 fight, I believe Wladimir has the better chance of winning because of his cautious style. If Haye can't close the distance and get past the P4P best jab in boxing, he has no other way to win this fight. Haye's best chance is to start extremely fast and not give Wladimir time to think or settle into his rythm. Wladimir just has to do what he does best, fight cautious, use the jab to full effect, control the pace and distance of the fight, and throw in a few right hands here and there. If Wladimir's allowed to fight his usual style without much resistance, or kryptonite (Mike Tyson Boxing Style) from David Haye, the fight is an easy win for Wladimir.
An early knockout for Haye, or a win for Wladimir by either knockout or decision seem like the most probable outcomes.
Wladimir Klitschko to knock Haye out in the later rounds. Either that or Haye's corner pull the plug late in the fight.