• Heavyweight

Haye denies turning down Klitschko fight

ESPN staff
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David Haye is set to fight Dereck Chisora © Getty Images
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David Haye has released a strong statement in response to the claims of Bernd Boente, who said on Monday that the Brit had turned down a clash with Vitali Klitschko to fight Dereck Chisora.

Boente, the manager of Klitschko, claimed at the start of the week that Haye was in talks to fight the Ukrainian. However, citing the arranged July 14 fight between Haye and Chisora, Boente said the Hayemaker opted for the easier option.

"There was a contract from us for [Haye] to fight Vitali in September but he chose to fight Chisora instead because it's an easier task," Boente said. "I think he never really wanted to fight Vitali. The guy is always talking. He barks like a dog and he does that because he is mostly afraid."

Haye insists the truth is rather different, drawing attention to the fact that - ever since he retired - he has said a fight with a Klitschko is his only remaining goal in the sport. The Brit says he took the Chisora fight knowing he could still be ready for a September bout with Klitschko.

"It makes absolutely no sense for me to turn down a fight I desperately want," Haye said on his official website. "Remember, the whole idea behind going ahead with this Chisora fight was that a victory may then lead to a fight with Vitali Klitschko.

"That was my plan, my reason for returning to the ring. I want to fight on July 14 and then again in September, and have been telling people this for months now."

Haye's trainer and manager Adam Booth provided some detail to support his fighter's story, saying their plan had been to fight twice this year. However, as soon as the Chisora bout was announced, Booth claims the Klitschko camp no longer wanted to negotiate.

"A few weeks ago I received a first draft contract from K2/KMG [the Klitschkos], as a formal offer for the fight between David and Vitali," Booth said. "Once we'd announced the Chisora fight I left a message for Shelly Finkel, in which I informed him we were ready to move to completion of the agreement for Vitali versus David. However, since that message was sent to Finkel, I have received no reply.

"Today I read that Herr Boente claims David 'turned the fight down' and 'does not want to fight Vitali'. Both of these claims are completely false. If Vitali wants to fight David in September, we are here and happy to accept. If not, no worries or sadness from our side.

"Maybe K2 realised during Vitali's fight with Chisora in February that their precious champion was drastically slowing down and didn't fancy going up against anyone too quick in the future. Whatever their reasoning, if Herr Boente is happy to spin the lines he feeds people, good for him."

Haye added: "What is clear to me is that K2 are now happy to protect an ageing Vitali and usher him towards politics as soon as possible. Politics is about popularity, and Vitali's popularity in Ukraine would take a massive hit if he were to get knocked out by me before retiring. It's imperative for him to keep winning and beating up puddings en route to retirement, as that sets him up nicely for a career in politics.

"At this advanced stage in his career, the last thing on Vitali's mind are tough challenges in the ring. He's essentially semi-retired, which is fine, so long as he comes clean about it. Don't go stringing everybody along - fighters and fans - when some of us know the truth.

"Unfortunately, Vitali will probably now look to fight some no-hoper, while telling the boxing world I turned down the fight. I will never turn down a fight with Vitali."

Defending his decision to fight Chisora, with whom he had an ugly brawl back in February, Haye said: "They can call my fight against Chisora a freak show as much as they like, but we all know that so-called freak show will have more people interested in it than either of the Klitschkos' next fights. Who wants to see Wladimir fight Tony Thompson again? Even Tony Thompson doesn't want to see that again. Their first fight was horrible enough.

"Also, anybody with an ounce of intelligence would know that Boente and the Klitschkos were only name-dropping and ridiculing my fight with Chisora to raise some publicity over here for the Klitschko film, which they happened to be in London promoting on Monday night."

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