Boxing's chance to shine
Every class has got one: a gifted kid capable of exceptional things - who spends most of his time mucking about. Once in a while, he will give a reminder of his talent, producing a standout piece of work. But usually he just mucks about, infuriating those who show faith in him, letting everyone down. Especially himself.
This is how I view boxing. A sport capable of scaling vertiginous dramatic heights, of producing incomparable displays of bravery and remarkable feats of skill, all too often it is guilty of selling itself short.
And that's the thing about the gifted kid who mucks about, even his most ardent supporters eventually lose faith and he is condemned to fester at the back of the classroom, insignificant and ignored.
The good news for fans of boxing is that it could be about to produce one of those rare standout pieces of work: David Haye v Wladimir Klitschko this summer, arguably the first heavyweight world title fight of any real significance since Haye's fellow Brit Lennox Lewis defeated Wladimir's older brother Vitali in 2003.
Klitschko (left) and Haye were first scheduled to meet in 2009. Photo: Getty Images
Hardcore fans are wont to point out that boxing does exist outside the heavyweight division, that the smaller men are keeping the sport's end up. But there are few names that resonate with the wider public. And those that do - Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, for example - stubbornly refuse to get it on. Their proposed contest, which some had billed as boxing's "last great fight", might now never actually happen.
As a consequence, the match between Londoner Haye, the WBA title-holder, and Ukrainian Klitschko, the IBF and WBO champion, takes on even greater importance. It is just a wonder anyone is still interested, so tortuous and, let's face it, tedious have the negotiations been.
"The bottom line is that it has come down to egos and money - this TV deal and that TV deal," opines Klitschko's trainer Emanuel Steward, who claims it took 15 minutes to make the classic fight between his man Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard back in 1981. "It is totally ridiculous. What's happening right now is simply hurting boxing. Killing it."
But let's leave aside who was chiefly to blame for a bout that was first slated to take place in June 2009 taking a further two years to come to fruition.
Instead, let's look forward to a rare break in the clouds for a dreary heavyweight division, one that has seen little sunshine since the night Lewis, perhaps the division's last true great, stopped a game Vitali Klitschko on cuts in what was to be the Briton's final fight.
Haye and Klitschko didn't seem to like each other much when they almost got it on before, so two years of talking is sure to have soured their relationship further. Expect the usual trash from Haye - he set the tone on Sunday by labelling Klitschko a hyena - and lots of bewildered shrugs from Klitschko, even though he knows the score: every ugly slur from Haye is a potential headline, every headline an extra 'kerching!'.
There are those who think Haye should show a little more respect. But the man's not stupid. Boxing's boom time is long over. If you don't make a song and dance nowadays, a lot of potential customers won't tune in. Just ask Nottingham's Carl Froch, a decent man and a very decent fighter, whose four contests since winning the WBC super-middleweight title have been shown on an obscure satellite channel. Not enough noise, you see.
Those expecting fireworks on fight night could be disappointed. Haye, who will be giving up four inches in height and in the region of 30lb in weight to Klitschko, has little to gain from standing and trading. Therefore, it could be a repeat of the Briton's clash with Nikolay Valuev. Haye won that fight on points, moving quickly in and out of the the giant Russian's reach and banking on his superior speed of both hands and feet.
That said, both men bring plenty of power, while there is the perception they both have suspect chins. Throw into the mix Haye's low-slung hands and Klitschko's habit of dropping his right after it has landed, and there might just be some excitement after all. Haye will figure he can detonate a left hook over that limp right hand. Unless, of course, Klitschko's right hand has already detonated.
But whether the fight is a spectacle or not is secondary to the fact they managed to nail it down in the first place. What the public wants from boxing is the best taking on the best in each division - build fights that make sense and they will come. But most of all, what the public wants is for boxing to stop mucking about and letting everyone down.