EDMONTON - On Saturday we'll find out if David Haye is the real deal or merely the latest English muffin in the U.K.'s long line of horizontal heavyweight hopefuls.
The 30-year-old Londoner was a career cruiserweight until two years ago, when he claimed the World Boxing Association heavyweight crown via a unanimous decision over 7-foot, 315-pound Nikolai Valuev of Russia.
In two title defences, Haye (25-1, 23 KOs) has knocked out a pair of pretenders in John Ruiz and fellow Brit Audley Harrison and made a lot of noise about being "the only fighter in the world who can beat both Klitschko brothers."
He'll get the chance to prove it on Saturday at the Imtech Arena in Hamburg, Germany, when he meets Wladimir Klitschko in a unification bout for the WBA, IBF, WBO and Ring championship belts.
"I'm in tremendous shape. I'm healthy, I have great punching power and speed," Haye said at Monday's final pre-fight media conference in the German city.
"I have the perfect game plan to beat Wladimir Klitschko," he added.
"It's going to be fun watching this robot start malfunctioning. That's what's going to happen ... real fast. He hasn't changed since the amateurs; that's what will make the difference early.
"It's going to be a celebration on Saturday. It will be a massive party for all the Brits coming to see this fight."
As is his wont, Klitschko (55-3, 49 KOs) was nonplussed by Haye's verbosity, at one point commenting: "We were happy to wait for you, princess."
The champion looked a little riled, however, when Haye once again refused to shake his hand following the traditional staredown photo.
That prompted a question from Klitschko's brother Vitali — the WBC champ — who was sitting in media row.
When the older Klitschko asked Haye to "promise everyone that you will attend the press conference after the fight," Haye replied: "No, you just make sure you're here and not at the hospital with your brother."
Blah, blah, blah.
Haye's hands are fast. Some might even say they're very fast. He punches hard and straight, too.
But he fights like an amateur.
Haye's defence is sloppy, he's easy to hit and, most telling, he's never beaten a heavy- weight even half as good as either Klitschko.
That said, the Brit has a legitimate puncher's chance if — and it's a big IF — he can establish some distance between himself and the 6-foot-6 champion, who only has a so-so chin.
Haye's best weapon is an explosive straight right, but in order to get Klitschko in his wheelhouse he'll need to establish his jab in order to gain that distance.
That means lots of head movement and sidestepping away for the champion's lethal left hook. It's his only hope.
Klitschko is not Muhammad Ali or George Foreman, but he's a well-schooled, highly disciplined puncher who is at his best when smaller, fleeter opponents get lulled into taking chances.
That description fits Haye like an 8-ounce glove.
It should be an entertaining bout, but from this corner Klitschko's 50th KO looks like a pretty good bet.