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Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images George Groves with David Haye and Adam Booth (right)
# Booth Factor
Haye-Klitschko A Battle Of Brains, As Well As Brawn
On one of the biggest boxing weekends of the year, Gavin Grace looks at the men masterminding the clash between David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko.

SIX WEEKS AGO, in London, as George Groves celebrated his win over James DeGale at London’s O2 Arena, he was joined in the ring by his trainer Adam Booth and promoter David Haye.

For both men, the night had been a remarkable success. Haye had secured a financial windfall – thanks in part to his long-time colleague Booth, who had devised the game plan to bamboozle the Olympic Champion. The ‘Hayemaker’ will need something similar tonight if he is to achieve his dream of becoming Heavyweight Champion of the World by defeating Wladimir Klitschko.

Booth and Haye share a close relationship. They linked up when David was 15, and have been together ever since. It was Booth who threw in the towel in Haye’s only loss to Carl Thompson:

as well as in his biggest career wins to date against Jean Marc Mormeck, Enzo Maccarinelli:

and Nikolay Valuev, when it was Booth who hoisted his man up in triumph.

Though he has a relatively small stable of fighters, there’s no doubting that he is now among the best trainers in Britain, and perhaps even the world.

Tonight though, as David Haye goes up against Wladimir Klitschko, Booth also goes up against one of the all-time great trainers. Emanuel Steward has master-minded the careers of 31 World Champions and is already a member of boxing’s Halls of Fame. Working out of the infamous Kronk gym in Detroit, he is also a respected as both an analyst and a gentleman. He brings a pedigree matched by few others, and with that a confidence about tonight’s fight.

Steward insists his man’s footwork, tactical nous and punching power will make it a short night. He has predicted a Klitschko win within four rounds. Booth, on the other hand, is promising a ‘different’ style of fight from his man. Most expect Haye to box at a distance, to use his superior speed to move in and out of range to throw punches, as he did against Valuev. However, Booth insists he has a trick up his sleeve. Haye even trained in an unusual southpaw stance in a public workout Wednesday – though this was widely dismissed as a stunt.

No matter what tactics Haye employs tonight, they will have been the brainchild of Adam Booth and will have come about because of the close relationship and understanding between the men. If their formula brings success, then fight fans will see that all-too-familiar sight once more– two friends, celebrating together; a team in the most individual of sports.

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Matthew Macklin’s comments in the aftermath of last Saturday’s loss to Felix Sturm were emphatic – he feels he should be a World Middleweight titlist. Many agree – pundits on US, German and UK TV all scored the fight in his favour – but others didn’t, most notably two of the three ringside judges and less notably, yours truly.

Most of the rounds last Saturday were close, and while a four-point difference (as declared by the judges who scored the fight for Sturm) cannot be justified, a narrow win for the German can. Some gave the fight to Macklin for his work-rate, others to Sturm for his better quality of punches. The loss is not a robbery, but rather another close decision in a boxing match.

All is not lost for the Irishman though. His performance impressed all who saw it and the controversy has helped stoke discussion about him too. He is now a ‘name’, in Europe and in the US. Big things will come his way, perhaps even a rematch with Sturm in November.


This Week In Boxing History

Tonight’s Haye-Klitschko battle harks back to a better time for boxing, when the sport was ruled by heavyweights. It also sees a brash, confident younger man go up against a tall, rangy opponent. It’s the same formula that was seen in New Jersey on June 27th, 1988, when Mike Tyson knocked out Michael Spinks. The all-conquering ‘Iron’ Mike came into the fight a red hot favourite, and this performance marked the zenith of his career. Three fights later, he would lose to James Buster Douglas in Tokyo, sparking an all-too-public downfall.