Haye may have to settle for Wladimir


BOXING:David Haye's hopes of fighting Vitali Klitschko in June look to have been dashed with the Ukrainian's brother Wladimir now emerging as a more likely opponent.

Haye, 28, recently agreed terms with Vitali to challenge for the WBC heavyweight title in London this summer, having previously expected to take on IBF and WBO champion Wladimir.

But Vitali now looks set to go ahead with a mandatory defence of his belt in March against Cuban challenger Juan Carlos Gomez, leaving Haye's world title ambitions on hold.

However his chances of fighting one of the brothers in June may be boosted if, as seems increasingly possible, Wladimir opts to face the Londoner instead of going through with his anticipated defence against Chris Arreola.

Vitali's mandatory defence against Gomez had always been an issue with the Ukrainian agreeing to fight Haye despite the WBC maintaining he must grant the Cuban a shot first.

At 37 and only one fight into his comeback from nearly four years in exile, Vitali is extremely unlikely to face both Gomez in March and Haye just three months later.

Wladimir, however, does not have to make his mandatory defence against Alexander Povetkin until the autumn and can therefore pick his opponent.

Former world cruiserweight champion Haye travelled to Germany in December to watch Wladimir's victory against Hasim Rahman and returned with an agreement in place to fight elder brother Vitali.

He also notoriously showed Vitali a magazine mock-up picture of him holding Wladimir's severed head, which did not go down well with the Hamburg-based veteran.

Londoner Haye made the permanent move up to heavyweight in November with an explosive stoppage victory over American veteran Monte Barrett in front of the watching Vitali.