Why David Haye should join in and not ignore Wladimir Klitschko’s mindgames

Guest blogger, Akhlaq Hanif
Klitschko offers Haye a handshake - 
should the latter shake it and play up to former's mindgames?
The opening minutes of the show indicted the tense stand off between two warriors, both cooped up in their rooms preparing for a verbal battle. But the media build up to the heavyweight unification fight between David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko has seen contrasting performances delivered by both men.

Ringside presenters Adam Smith and Johnny Nelson walked towards the camera, speaking slowly to wet the anticipation even further. Any viewer tuning in would be thinking? Was Muhammed Ali joining them? Nope. They ambled their way through the corridor to confirm that Haye and Klitschko were on the show but that the former wouldn’t be sitting alongside his arch rival.

It was an unfortunate drab conclusion, to what has been an intriguing look in from the outside, of the mindsets of both fighters as they begin to near to their meeting in Hamburg on July 2nd.
On the back of a feisty press conference in America, both men jetted to Germany where on a beautiful sunshine strewn day, they took pictures for the media and in a moment encapsulated the frame of mind of each man.
Haye, wearing a clean white tracksuit had raised his left index finger in the posture that all boxers tend do in these organised photography moments. His opponent on the other hand, dressed in formal attire, was waving his right hand in front of Haye, making light of the whole situation.
Since 2008, when Haye confronted a started Klitschko in a London hotel, the man from Bermondsey has publicly engaged in trash talking of the highest level to try and get the heavyweight championship fight he wants. Belitting Klitschko’s style, his choosing of opponents, entertainment value and decapitating both their heads (not literally obviously) for a darkly themed t-shirt that he wore to their press conference in 2009, when they were scheduled to fight before Haye pulled out due to injury.
In the media briefings in Hamburg and London, Haye has been uncharacteristically quiet. What we have seen are the customary complaints of his opponent and the foreboding of his doom in the ring. After years of public insults, I was hoping for something fresh. Haye, speaking to Smith and Nelson on Ringside (after Klitschko had left) said he was bottling his emotions for the fight due to take place but at what cost in the promotion of it?
Fights like these, especially in the heavyweight divison which has lacked sparkle for many years, needs brightening up with more column inches written, more TV air time taken for the most meaningful battle in many years. Haye, who has complained of the lack of entertainment in the division, is now turning his back on the principle which he most complained about.
It’s at this juncture that praise must be given to his opponent, who maybe sensing Haye’s changed demeanour and has taken advantage with a media strategy of his own. In years gone by, interviews I had seen with Wladimir, had left me feeling agreeing with Haye’s stark assessment of the Ukrainian.
Whether it has been pre-planned or he has been given advice by a comedian or a PR guru, the 35-year-old younger brother of Vitali is now displaying a different side to his previous robot like exterior.
Compared to Haye’s straight to the point comments, Klitschko has reverted to using humour to show the world that he is in a better mood heading into the showdown.
Having in the past been bold and brash in his statements, Haye’s recent moves have left me disappointed and feel they are hindering his psychological mindset for the fight.
By refusing to sit alongside Klitschko in the Ringside or other studios, it gives the impression that he is somewhat intimidated or that his co-star will end up coming out of a verbal confrontation the better with his newly found humoristic talents
He did something similar when he was preparing to face old enemy Audley Harrison in November 2010, when he did not appear on the comfy Soccer AM studio alongside Helen Chamberlain and Max Rushden to engage in jousting with Harrison. Giving the exact same reason as he has done with Klitschko, Haye said he had tired of seeing his opponent’s face after coming through media conferences with him.
By not engaging with his opponent in face to face situations, Haye is only providing ammunition to Klitschko, his supporters and sceptical sections of the media that the fighter is hiding his nervousness for the fight through non appearances at scheduled media interviews.
And by refusing to shake Klitschko’s hand which to his defence, Haye could cite that the Ukrainian is trying to lure him into a psychological mind game, it would be better for Haye to play up to his opponent’s humour rather than reject it.
Haye’s personality is such that he can differentiate between the friendly banter with his opponent whilst at the same time keep the undercurrent of motivation going.
Whoever is seen as the winner of the media battles will have no bearing on both competitors, all they know is that the real hard work of training begins, to see who will unify the titles on July 2nd.


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