Boxing: After all the big talk, it's time for Haye to step up

Londoner must summon up his courage tonight as Valuev aims to 'shut him up'

David Haye wants everybody to believe that size doesn't matter, that power is the real factor in heavyweight title fights and that at about midnight tonight he will be the new World Boxing Association champion.

There is no doubting Haye's sincerity and there is no disputing that during the last 11 months he has prepared for the task, the mammoth task, which he will face when he walks out to fight Nikolai Valuev in Nuremberg.

"It's time now to shut up, get in the ring and get this over," claimed a slightly tetchy Haye after yesterday's weigh-in. "It's not just the last week, or the last few months – it's been years and years of getting ready for this fight, for a fight like this. This is why you walk into a boxing gym: I just want to fight now."

He will get his wish because Valuev, a strangely placid giant, has become increasingly irritated, which is the right word, at Haye's often vulgar attempts to insult him. Haye, it should be pointed out, is also disliked in Germany because of his two false starts against national idols the Klitschko boys, Vladimir and Vitali.

"Some people have asked why Haye is getting this chance to win the title," said the show's promoter, Kalle Sauerland. "He's getting the chance because he is exciting, but also he is well known in Germany after the controversial Klitschko fight fell through. He has a high profile."

In June, with 60,000 tickets sold, Haye pulled out of a fight with Vladimir, and two months later agreed favourable terms to meet Valuev on the same day that his fight with Vitali was due to be officially announced. The simple truth is that the small print for tonight's fight, which includes three options, is so much better than the deal on the table for a Klitschko fight. "I don't like the word option, I prefer to say that we have a partnership agreement," Kalle added.

On the scales yesterday the boxers were separated by the bulky fists of Don King, who has a piece of Valuev, when the veteran promoter raised both their arms for one final photo opportunity on the safe side of the first bell. Haye was 15st 8lb, his heaviest ever by a pound, and Valuev 22st 7lb, which is one of his lighter fighting weights, and to be honest neither weight is significant. Haye said three months ago he would be under 16 stone and Valuev's people promised a faster, slimmer champion. Tonight there will nothing keeping them apart and that is when this fight will become truly fascinating on several levels. Can Haye really overcome the weight difference and disadvantages of nine inches in height and seven inches in reach?

Valuev also has the advantage of having fought 52 men who are shorter than him and he certainly knows how to not waste punches swinging lamely at the heads of his opponents. Haye, meanwhile, has been sparring with men wearing boxing boots with Spice Girl-style platform soles attached, and throwing a looping counter over a boxing glove held upwards on a broomstick. "I never said it was going to be easy beating this giant," Haye said. "It will take tremendous concentration and a beautifully executed plan."

The problem is that Haye is not Lennox Lewis, a fighter who could control his head and his heart and perform often enough with a safety-first approach, which was in direct contrast to his desire to knock everybody out. Haye is a hothead, a dynamic puncher whose fists have only once in 22 wins failed to end a fight early.

There is only one version of Valuev, but that version is a lot better than people think. Thankfully Haye, a student of the sport, has not been conned by the "one-dimensional, slow freak" descriptions that people who should know better have been throwing around in the last few days. There is a chance that the man who will be most shocked tonight by his opponent's ability will be Valuev; it is obvious that Haye has not impressed the Russian's people.

"He talks all the time but he will not be able to talk in the ring and it will be nice to shut him up," Valuev said. "He has never been in the ring with a man of my size and also he has never met a man of my experience."

It is just possible that Valuev has never met a boxer like Haye, a boxer determined to grab the initiative and take the fight to the towering champion from the opening bell. Valuev has lost and come close to losing in fights where his opponents ran or moved close enough to hit him, without being blasted to the canvas. Haye has no chance of doing either for 12 rounds and that is the brutal truth and the main reason why this heavyweight fight, unlike so many since Lewis rode off into his own Caribbean sunset in 2003, has found a way into the hearts and minds of boxing's most cynical fans. Haye has an old-fashioned banger's chance and that is all that any boxing fan wants in a heavyweight fight. He might try and move, he might try to duck and dive, switch to southpaw, hit Valuev low, but at some point Haye will have to simply stand and deliver.

"David is not a complex fighter," said Mick Carney, who trained him for nearly a decade at the Fitzroy Lodge club in Lambeth. "Getting in the ring against Valuev, in Germany, as the underdog is what gives him a buzz – it's all that he has ever wanted." Carney is right and Haye is clearly relishing his moment tonight in the spotlight in a fight that takes him to the brink of the heavyweight millions.

Valuev should be able to walk all over Haye once the lights are dimmed, he should be able to end it at any time, but tonight he will finally have to get involved in a real fight against a man who is as fearless as Valuev is huge.

Previous biggest ever champions

*Vitali Klitschko

Current WBC champ stands at 6ft 7in.

n HENRY AKINWANDE 6ft 7in. WBO heavyweight champion 1996-97.

*Vladimir Klitschko Current IBF, IBO and WBO champion. 6ft 6in.

*jess willard Heavyweight champion 1915-19. 6ft 6in.

David Haye has only fought (professionally) outside the United Kingdom on three previous occasions – beating Roger Bowden in Miami in 2003, Vance Winn in Beverly Hills, also in 2003, and Jean-Marc Mormeck in Paris in 2007.

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape