The Klitschko brothers have never come to blows, but the prospect of finally taking on David Haye and "closing his mouth" has them jostling to get into the ring to face Britain's World Boxing Association heavyweight champion.
Vitali Klitschko yesterday announced his next encounter – against the Brentwood-based Pole, Albert Sosnowski, in Gelsenkirchen on 28 May – but made it plain that the opponent he most wants is Haye. Haye, however, is also No 1 on brother Wladimir's hit list. "I want to fight David Haye," said the 38-year-old Ukrainian, "I said to Wladimir, I'm the older brother – I'll fight Haye. Maybe we decide by tossing a coin."
Haye and the Klitschkos have history. The Briton pulled out of fighting Wladimir – who holds the WBO and IBF belts – in June last year citing injury having spent the build-up to the fight lambasting the brothers, calling Wladimir "Bitchko" and wearing a T-shirt bearing an image of him holding their decapitated heads.
"I am keeping my fingers crossed that Haye beats John Ruiz [his opponent next month]," said Klitschko. "Not because I like him, because I want his title and I want to close his mouth. It's a big motivation."
Klitschko will meet Sosnowski after attempts to fight Nikolai Valuev, who surrendered his title to Haye last year, foundered when the Russian's camp rejected a $2.5m (£1.7m) offer. "Valuev is a chicken," said Klitschko, speaking at the Laureus World Sports Awards here. "We gave him the biggest financial proposal of his career and he says no. Valuev understands that if he loses this fight that's it for his career. That's why he wanted $4m."
The collapse of the Valuev contest could have consequences for a meeting between Haye and either Klitschko. The 29-year-old Briton is thought to be contracted to a rematch with Valuev, although there may, as ever, be avenues out of any deal.
Klitschko, the holder of the WBC belt, also revealed yesterday the key player in the failure to set up a rematch with Lennox Lewis.
"Lennox invited me to London to talk – just me and him," he said. "When I arrived he was there and so was his mum. As we were talking his mum was scanning me up and down. A couple of hours later I got a call from him. No fight. It was his mum's decision."