This Saturday night in Nuremberg, Germany, David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye will step into the unknown.
Looking back at him from across the squared circle will be the Heavyweight Champion of the World.
And he truly is a Heavyweight in every sense of the word.
His opponent and the WBA Champion is Nikolay Valuev. He stands at over 7 Feet tall and tips the scales at 320 lbs.
The bout has been aptly entitled ‘David vs. Goliath’ and all of the hallmarks of the biblical encounter are as crystal clear as the Old Testaments message.
David Haye possesses the pugilistic version of the slingshot David used to topple Goliath: his right hand.
Valuev presents the same aura of invincibility...attributed to his overbearing size.
He has never been knocked down in his 52-fight career, outweighs Haye by nearly 100 pounds, has a ‘massive’ 11-inch height and 8-inch reach advantage.
Lest we forget Haye’s foray into the heavyweight division is still in its ‘infancy’ having stepped up from Cruiserweight where he reigned as World Champion.
The Englishman remains well aware of the ‘man mountain’ that he must overcome – ‘He’s fought guys much quicker than him and found ways to win.’ Haye said.
‘He’s so big the weight of his arms is the equivalent to someone my size loading up. He will try to knock me out, but I will push him into situations he’s never been before.’
Ironically, though it is not the seemingly insurmountable physical discrepancy, which poses the greatest challenge.
Psychologically, this is unlike any bout Haye has approached before...and maybe will again.
Haye claims to have adopted a completely different mindset and training regimen in order to compete and ultimately dispatch the ‘Beast from the East’.
His build up to the fight has called for his trainer Adam Booth to don 6-inch heels so Haye could become accustomed to punching with the necessitated steeper trajectory.
Red lines have been etched around the perimeter of Haye’s training gym in South London at a height of 7 foot 2 and full size cardboard cut-outs of Valuev dotted around, all to familiarise him with the gargantuan size of the Heavyweight Champion he will stand face-to-chest with on Saturday night.
Whilst all of these elaborate methods may have their benefits, the true test of whether Haye can overcome the psychological element of the challenge will not be evident until Saturday night.
More specifically can he maintain his presence of mind when confronted with a scenario whereby he manages to unload big shots but produces little or no reaction from the Russian?
Only then will we know if Haye has the necessary staying power to cope with such psychological demands.
Haye’s comments throughout the build up would infer a lack of intimidation and he frequently brushes off suggestions that Valuev’s vastly superior height and weight will decide the fight.
He has adopted a campaign of slander and mockery aimed at unsettling the Russian, exposing him to a barrage of crude personal insults.
The loud Londoner has resorted to the sort of abuse that is regularly hurled on playgrounds, heckling that his opponent is ''ugly and stinking;’' even likening Valuev to the ‘bogeyman’, ‘King Kong’ and ‘Frankenstein’.
Referring to Valuev’s thick matted coat of body hair, Haye advised waxing would be futile and ‘a lawnmower offers the only practical solution.’
Where Haye established such cosmetology expertise remains to be seen.
Nevertheless it remains clear that ‘The Hayemaker’s’ increasingly imaginative tirades have at their purpose Valuev’s downfall.
Both Haye and his trainer Adam Booth hope that this will lure Valuev into following his heart and not head and cause him to committ costly mistakes.
‘I need him to open up and get mad so he loses his technique and then I can get inside and do my thing.’ Haye elaborates ‘He's got such long arms, he just keeps people at the end of his jab.
Haye rests assured that it is having the desired effect, ‘Word from Valuev’s camp is that he wants to do a number on me. As long as he comes out throwing punches, and it seems he will, it will suit me because I am a fast counter-puncher and speed is the key in this fight.’
Do not be fooled, though.
Haye’s sole purpose is not only to rile the Russian.
He retains a keen sense of the magnitude of this night and that such energetic (if at times conspicuous) selling helps capture boxing fans' and possibly mainstream attention. In turn making himself and the fight relevant.
He says: 'I have to get out here and do a selling job. I have to remind everyone that an Englishman is about to become the next world heavyweight champ.’
The heavyweight division has been crying out for a charismatic, entertaining and appealing World Champion for almost a decade now.
Haye undeniably fits the bill.
Gone are the days of World heavyweight tear-ups, where the spectacle was paramount. Days where threatening to eat opponent’s children was commonplace in the pre-fight hype are now things of folk-lore.
Ushered in has been the jabbing, prodding, unspectacular bouts that perhaps caters to the more gentlemanly boxing aficionado but have limited mainstream appeal.
The ‘Hayemaker’ possesses a blunderbuss of a right hand, notable quickness and dogged determination. However, all of these attributes are yet to be tested on a World Class heavyweight.
The strategy that enabled him to conquer the Cruiserweight division unfortunately will have no bearing on Saturday night’s outcome.
The majority opinion advocate adopting a strategy based on hit and move...advancing the blueprint laid down by Evander Holyfield when he fought Valuev 11 months ago as the successful approach to topple the Russian Giant.
However, what remains as the caveat emptor is no matter how well Holyfield executed that strategy and how many critics and fans promote it, he lost by majority decision, with one Judge scoring it 115-114 and another 116-112.
Unfortunately for Haye, his punch output is probably not enough to carry off what would be a completely unfamiliar strategy.
That aside appealing to the Judges with such a negative strategy is extremely unlikely.
As has been proved time and time again, especially when a fighter challenges a champion outside of his own territory, it is nigh on impossible to steal the title.
Judges want to see indisputable evidence that the Champion was beaten in order to justify him relinquishing his gold.
I am a great believer that a good boxer, and Haye is most certainly that, should be able to beat a fighter.
However it is most likely ‘The Hayemaker’ will be required to perfect an alien strategy and maintain such for 12 rounds, and I find this hard to envisage.
His only hope remains that all of his pre-fight banter and in ring strategy will frustrate and rile Valuev, allowing Haye to pick holes in the Champion en route to either a late stoppage or points decision.
What is apparent is that in order to leave Nuremberg this Saturday as the WBA Heavyweight Champion, not only will he have to be the best David he's ever been, Haye will require more tools than just a slingshot to slay this modern-day Goliath.