Boxing: Haye and Klitschko set Hamburg date
David Haye envisages "an army of Brits invading Germany" after his massive unification showdown with IBF/WBO holder Wladimir Klitschko was yesterday confirmed for 2 July at the 57,000 capacity Imtech Arena in Hamburg.
"It's great to finally find out the date and venue," said Londoner Haye, who won the WBC cruiserweight title on away turf in Paris and the WBA heavyweight crown against Nikolay Valuev in Nuremberg, Germany.
"I've been training for this since the end of 2010 and it's nice to have a concrete date to work towards.
"Hamburg is an accessible city for a lot of British fans, so I'm expecting a huge turn-out for what is undoubtedly the biggest boxing event of the year. We're going to have an army of Brits invading Germany on 2 July and I can't wait to sample the atmosphere.
"I think every city in mainland Europe and beyond wanted to stage this fight, and that shows just what an appealing event it is.
"Personally, I wasn't bothered where the fight ended up. I'd fight Wladimir anywhere, so long as the location comes with a ring and a referee that can count to 10. By the time I've finished with Wladimir, he won't know where he is anyway."
While various European venues were considered, the fight was never going to be held in Britain for economic and logistical reasons. Also, Klitschko and his brother Vitali, the WBC champion, are huge draws in Germany.
Their manager, Bernd Boente, confirmed the final decision had been carried out in partnership with his opposite number Adam Booth, Haye's manager and trainer.
Klitschko, 35, has been undergoing protracted rehabilitation from an abdominal injury suffered in December, but Boente insists the slightly later date – 25 June had also been mooted – was unconnected.
"The date had nothing to do with Wladimir's stomach injury," he said. "The arena could not do the week before.
"We had only two dates from [broadcasters] Sky and RTL, the key players here, and it was either 25 June or 2 July.
"So it was always dependent on the stadium. Only 2 July was possible because of various concerts. I think two weeks later Take That play the same arena."
The fight is undoubtedly the biggest in a flagging heavyweight division for years, pitting the taller, orthodox Klitschko – who has a record of 55 wins (49 KOs) and three defeats – against quick, power-punching 30-year-old Haye (25-1, 23KOs).
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