HAMBURG – Wladimir Klitschko of the Ukraine became the undisputed world heavyweight champion by beating Great Britain’s David Haye on a unanimous points decision here on Saturday night.
Klitschko now holds the IBF, WBO and WBA belts after being awarded the fight by the three judges 117-109, 118-108, 116-110 to claim victory over Haye, the former WBA champion.
Alongside brother Vitali, the WBC champion, the Klitschko brothers now hold all four of the major world titles.
“I couldn’t push off my right leg because I broke my toe in training. It was frustrating,” explained Haye after the fight.
It was a bout that promised much and delivered little, as Haye struggled to get inside Klitschko’s reach, despite his pre-fight boast that he would knock the Ukrainian out.
Klitschko won the IBF belt against Chris Byrd in 2006 and added the WBO title two years later, while Haye had been the WBA champion since 2009.
This was the first heavyweight unification bout since Klitschko took the WBO belt from Sultan Ibragimov at Madison Square Garden in 2008 and the biggest title fight since Mike Tyson was beaten by Lennox Lewis in 2002.
The pair had been due to meet in 2009 in Gelsenkirchen, but a back injury forced Haye out and in 2009 he won the WBA heavyweight title when he beat Nikolai Valuev in Nuremburg.
This was the Ukrainian’s 56th win in his 59th professional bout with just three defeats, but he failed to make Haye his 50th knock-out, while this was the second defeat of Haye’s career to leave him with 25 wins and 23 knock-outs from 27 fights.
Heavy rain and swirling winds in Hamburg blighted the open-air bout at the city’s football stadium and both fighters were well wrapped up against the chilly night air before the first bell.
Haye was down in the first round when Klitschko pushed him as both fighters probed each other’s defence with a series of jabs, the Ukrainian beginning cautiously while Haye looked to land a big right on several occasions.
Both fighters landed shots to the face in the second, but it was Haye in the third who struck the first significant blow by landing a big right over the top of Klitschko’s left hand, before the Brit was briefly caught on the ropes.
The Ukrainian was starting to show marks on his face with blood coming from his nose and Haye found his range with a couple of right-hand shots in the fourth, one of which stunned Klitschko on the bell.
Haye slipped twice in the fifth and Klitschko upped the pace as Haye wobbled after a right in a good round for the Ukrainian, while Haye was down again in the seventh after slipping as he went to land a swinging right.
Klitschko was docked a point in the seventh by referee Referee Genaro Rodriguez for pushing Haye down.
While Haye looked fresh, Klitschko was still the aggressor, but the pace dropped in the eighth, although Haye slipped again after being caught with a right.
Haye left it until the end of the ninth to throw a few wild punches, but Klitschko’s jabs were keeping him at bay.
In the 10th, the bigger fighter landed several strong rights to Haye’s face as the Brit seemed unable to get inside Klitschko’s reach of over two metres.
Haye was down early in the 11th following another skip and referee Rodriguez gave him a standing count.
The Londoner tried to raise his game, but the fight was slipping away from him. He came out firing in the 12th and final round, but Klitschko’s jab kept him at bay.