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Haye prepares to face Klitschko

London, Jun 25 (Agencies)
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Published on 25 Jun. 2011 11:19 PM IST
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David Haye knows his legacy as a heavyweight champion will be defined by his showdown with Wladimir Klitschko in Hamburg next Saturday. The stakes are high for both fighters in the unification clash at the Imtech Arena with reputations ready to be made or broken. Haye, who seized his WBA title from Nikolai Valuev in 2009, excelled as a cruiserweight but has yet to be genuinely tested since stepping up a division. The 30-year-old’s claim to greatness will be validated by facing Klitschko, a formidable opponent whose own stock will soar if he successfully defends his IBF, WBO and IBO belts. With Haye determined to retire on his 31st birthday on October 13, he knows history will judge him on what unfolds next weekend. “This is it, this is my career-defining fight. I had the big one against Nikolai Valuev and took his titles,” he said. “There’s more at stake in this one, I’ll take his belts which will be a dream come true. It will be the perfect way to go out. “Without a doubt this is my legacy-deciding fight, this is the one I’ll be remembered for in years to come. “This is Wladimir’s defining fight as well as mine, so I expect him to be at his best. There’s a lot on the line for both fighters.” By his own admission Haye has never faced anyone in Klitschko’s class, so the Londoner has pulled out all the stops in preparation for the biggest fight of his career. “Klitschko is by far the greatest challenge I’ve faced. I’ve never met anyone with his attributes before,” he said. “I’ve fought big guys before, but this guy is faster, more accomplished and has a lot of belts. “It will take nothing less than a perfect performance to beat him. “I’m training to be faster, more athletic and punch harder than ever before. I know that if I don’t do that then things could go wrong. “But I’m making sure all angles are covered in the gym. Come fight night on July 2, I’m going to take his head off.” Klitschko is known for being ultra-cautious - all three of his defeats have come through knockout, so he is aware of his vulnerability - and his upright style is not to everyone’s taste. But the 35-year-old is very effective and can punch himself with 49 of his 55 victories arriving early. “Wladimir has a lot of speed and a lot of athleticism for a big guy. Rarely do you get someone as big as him being as athletic,” said Haye. “Usually the big guys are slow and ponderous. But I’m faster than him, punch harder and have greater punch variety. “He’s been knocked down in the past, but whether or not he’s chinny I’ll find out. If he is, he’ll come unstuck pretty soon. “I guarantee that I will land on his chin at some stage of the fight. He won’t know what happened to him. “I’ll look to stick one on him as early as possible, let him know the power’s there. He’s going to get punished and hurt. “I’m expecting him to come out and have a real good go because of his weight and size. I expect him to press the fight.” 




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