Boxing: Klitschko 'to fight brother' as Haye goes to back of queue

Family tear-up now on the cards but Londoner's big title chance has gone

Going is a breathtakingly picturesque village nestling in the Austrian Alps straight out of the Sound of Music. But the sound that emanated from the lips of Wladimir Klitschko in his five-star Tyrolean training camp one sunny evening last week would have had Julie Andrews covering her ears. The giant Ukrainian is eloquent in four languages but when he heard David Haye had pulled out of their scheduled world heavyweight title fight in Gelsenkirchen on 20 June, his one-word reaction was common to all of them. "Fuck!" he snapped.

The timing was as dramatic as the Alpine backdrop, for as Klitschko's German promoter, Bernd Boente, broke the news after taking a telephone call from Haye's training base in Cyprus, the 6ft 7in Klitschko was making the mind-boggling revelation that there is now a possibility he could fight his even bigger brother Vitaly to finally unite the heavyweight division. In the past the Klitschkos have always maintained they would never meet in the ring – "because our mother would go crazy".

But Wladimir now tells us: "We are going to talk to our mother again because we know how much interest such a fight would create and it would mean that one of us would be the supreme heavyweight champion. Of course she would not be happy and if we did fight I would be very worried about the health of my brother because it would be very bloody and very bad. We are very competitive and it would be for real. There would be no fix."

Who would win? Wladimir thought long and hard. "I am the better technical boxer but he is the stronger of the two. It would be interesting." Indeed. In the past, the brothers used to spar regularly but they no longer do so because the sessions became too fierce. Outside the ring, they are immensely loyal, exuding brotherly love and mutual support, each working in the other's corner when they fight. Intellectually and physically, if not fistically, (Wladimir has the bigger punch but the weaker chin) they are alike.

The sons of a former Soviet air force colonel, they have rarely been separated in their adult lives, both turning professional in 1996 after Wladimir had won an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta. Both are multi-lingual and hold doctorates in sports science and philosophy from the University of Kiev. As Wladimir, 33, admits, the 37-year-old Vitaly, who is a couple of inches taller, is the stronger and more accomplished, holding the more authentic WBC version of the heavyweight championship, while Wladimir has the lesser-regarded WBO, IBF and IBO belts he was due to defend against Haye. He is an engagingly witty man with a ready smile but his genial features darkened thunderously when he was told the Londoner had cried off – he looked for a moment as if he had already been stunned by the promised Hayemaker. Whether or not this would have happened before a 60,000 crowd at the FC Schalke stadium, we might never know, because there is now little doubt that Haye, who had asked for a three-week postponement while he has "aggressive physiotherapy" on a back injury, is now on the back-burner as far as Klitschko is concerned.

The Ukrainian has scant regard for the cocky cruiserweight champion, in the ring or out, and it seems he is more likely to go ahead on 20 June against the Uzbek Ruslan Chagaev the WBA champion who, by one of those odd quirks of boxing fate, is suddenly available after his own fight with another gargantuan heavyweight, Nikolay Valuev, the Russian seven-footer, was called off 24 hours beforehand in Helsinki last weekend when his blood test showed a mild form of hepatitis. Apparently he has been passed fit by the German Boxing Federation. Then Klitschko must make a mandatory defence against another Russian, Alexander Povetkin, in September, so Haye has to return to the back of a long queue of contenders.

To add insult to Haye's injury he has had his knuckles rapped by the British Boxing Board of Control for the tasteless episode in the build-up to the fight when he wore a T-shirt displaying the decapitated heads of the Klitschko brothers and labelled Wladimir "Bitchko". The Board – who acted quickly to heavily fine and impose a four-month suspension on another British heavyweight, Derek Chisora, after an ear-biting incident in his last fight – warned Haye he faces disciplinary action if such incidents are repeated.

Soon after the bombshell hit the mountainside retreat, the hills were alive with the sound of rumour – that Haye's withdrawal may have something do with the financial troubles of Setanta, who were due to screen the fight exclusively and were underwriting his £950,000 purse. All vehemently denied of course. And a couple of hours in Wladimir's company convinces you Haye may have been stepping out of his league and in backing out, so to speak, has done himself a favour. There's been a lot going on in Going, but as for the Hayemaker it seems his big chance has gone.

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all