Boxing: Haye aims for Klitschko double with Vitali date set

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The Independent Online

It was thought David Haye would fight double world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko but he will instead fight World Boxing Council champion Vitali Klitschko in London in June. Haye and his manager negotiated a deal in the hours after Wladimir defended his International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organisation titles on Saturday in Mannheim against Hasim Rahman. They emerged at 5am with a deal to fight Vitali on Setanta in the summer.

"It was just us in the room," confirmed Haye. "Vitali and me and our managers, who are also our promotional partners, and the deal in the end was easy because it is the fight that heavyweight boxing wants to see."

Haye will be four inches shorter, have a shorter reach by two inches and will be lighter by as much as two stone on the night but he remains convinced that he will be too fast for the senior of the two dominant Klitschko brothers.

"What is the point in having all of those physical advantages if you are slow and take forever to get your shots off?" added Haye. "If he hits me flush on the chin he will knock me out but I will take him out first. That is what the heavyweight boxing is all about."

There is some confusion over Klitschko's WBC belt being on the line when the fight, which is likely to be at the O2 Arena, takes place. Klitschko has a potential mandatory defence against German-based Cuban Juan Carlos Gomez and Haye and Klitschko have sought clarity from the WBC's president Jose Sulaiman.

"This is the biggest fight in the heavyweight division and people all over the world want to see it," said Klitschko's manager, Bernd Boente. "We will wait and see what the WBC have to say but it could take place without the belt. It is big enough."

Last month Klitschko and Boente were in London to watch Haye knock out New York's world-ranked Monte Barrett in five entertaining rounds. They were scouting on behalf of Wladimir and left the O2 on that night with noticeably confident grins on their faces. However, Haye correctly predicted that they would try and substitute Wladimir for Vitali. "Wlad goes over too easy and this giant (Vitali) has never even been knocked down," added Haye. "Lennox Lewis couldn't hurt him but I will end his reign and send him into retirement and then I will knock out the other one."