According to ESPN.com’s UK outlet, Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR (Punch) party is forecast to win 15 percent of the vote based on exit polls in Ukraine’s recent elections. While this might appear to be a modest number, the success of Klitschko’s party, as reported by SecondsOut.com, is still a landmark victory for the upstart politician, as Klitschko said at his party headquarters:
Currently, according to exit polls results, we are Ukraine’s number three party in terms of voters’ support. I think this result is not bad at all for a young party, and I’m sure we’ll capitalize on this result and will prove our professionalism and credibility during our work in parliament.
Most significant is that UDAR (Punch) will enter parliament for the first time, and Klitschko (45-2, 41 KO), as party leader, will naturally see his political responsibilities increase with his newfound success.
While this is undoubtedly a tremendous accomplishment for the elder Klitschko and underlies, via ESPN.com/UK, his party’s “dramatic rise from the status of fringe party into a major player,” one cannot help but wonder what this means for his future as a boxer.
More specifically, fans and pundits will certainly be intrigued as to how Klitschko’s political success will affect a supposedly agreed to fight against former lineal cruiserweight champion and heavyweight belt-holder David Haye (per the Daily Mail).
The above-cited Daily Mail article indicates that while Klitschko’s political career is clearly on the rise, he does not want to make a rash decision regarding his future as a prizefighter:
Right now, there are many discussions about [retirement]. I’m not ready to announce about my retirement. Maybe one fight, maybe two fights more. And after that, I am retired. I am active in politics.
Regardless of whether Klitschko opts to fight again, it is clear that his long-term projections privilege politics. In the same Daily Mail article, Bernd Boente, Klitschko’s manager, was somewhat more definitively quoted as saying, “If Vitali gets a role after the elections where he can make a difference, I suppose that would be the end of his career.”
Using Ukraine’s exit polls as evidence, it is clear that Klitschko will have a significant role in his country’s political future, which obviously complicates the proposed fight against Haye (26-2, 24 KO). Until Klitschko officially speaks to the concreteness of his boxing future, Haye, who is only interested in fighting one of the Klitschko brothers, could be left in the lurch.
Or will he?
Given Haye’s paltry performance in a unification fight against Wladimir Klitschko in 2011 where the Brit attributed his defeat to an injured toe, many will be outraged that Haye is even being considered for another heavyweight title shot.
Despite scoring an emphatic win over Dereck Chisora to throw his name back into the heavyweight mix, one has to question Haye’s potential status as a title-challenger after sporadic activity and his subpar performance against the younger Klitschko (58-3, 50 KO).
The fact remains, however, that Haye is arguably the most talented, established contender in the heavyweight division. At this point, Haye might need to further reestablish himself, but one cannot argue against his speed, power and natural athletic ability. Were Haye to put forth a spirited effort against either Klitschko, it is reasonable to suspect that the fight could be competitive.
This, however, is a big if. Some will rejoice about the prospect of Haye losing out on a fight against Vitali Klitschko; for those who feel that way, prepare to redirect your ire at the WBO. According to the above-cited Daily Mail article, the WBO is considering naming Haye as a mandatory challenger for Wladimir’s title.
While this isn’t a foregone conclusion—the WBO is also considering Seth Mitchell and Denis Boystov for its number one contender spot—this speculation should come as no surprise. The WBO, after all, is perhaps most famous for keeping a deceased boxer in its rankings for four months after the fighter had died.
The apathetic feeling towards the heavyweights is not good for boxing and Haye, if he fights to his potential, could reinvigorate boxing’s glamour division (to a certain degree). That said, is placing one’s trust in Haye worth the risk?