'The Ducker' no more, Haye finally signs

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&#8226; Looks like giving heavyweight titlist David Haye the nickname "The Ducker" worked, as he finally signed to fight champion Wladimir Klitschko in the most significant heavyweight fight boxing has to offer.

Seriously, it's about time the sides came to terms, even if it was Haye who was mostly responsible for dragging this out for the better part of two years. They are due to meet at a European site to be determined June 25 or July 2.

Of course, we must keep in mind that this is not the first time Haye signed to face Klitschko. They were supposed to fight in the summer of 2009, but Haye, citing a questionable back injury, pulled out a couple of weeks before the bout. The real reason, most believe, was because the television network he was tied to in England at the time, Setanta, was on the verge of bankruptcy and he wasn't certain he would be paid the bulk of his purse. He never could bring himself to admit that.

Nonetheless, a couple of months later Haye agreed to challenge Vitali Klitschko for his belt, but he didn't sign because he had secretly negotiated behind Klitschko's back for a fight with Nikolai Valuev, against whom Haye won his belt. So now he has finally signed again. That's great news for boxing and boxing fans around the world.

I give Haye credit for finally manning up and signing on the dotted line, and for also agreeing to face Vitali in the event that Wladimir's nagging abdominal injury isn't healed in time. Haye against either Klitschko is an important fight, one that so many of us have been looking forward to for ages.

Haye, of course, will trash-talk until the cows come home. He has already started (continued?): "I always believed we'd one day fight and I am glad we have cut through the nonsense and put together the most important fight in the heavyweight division. This is an inevitable fight with an inevitable conclusion: Wladimir Klitschko is getting violently knocked out."

Klitschko hasn't been a big talker, even though it's clear that Haye has gotten under his skin in recent months. When the fight was announced, Klitschko said, "I am happy that a fight has finally been realized. It is my brother's and my dream to unify all four belts in the Klitschko family. I will not let this chance go by. Haye has twice dropped out of a fight with us and now he has already started to do a lot of trash talking again. It is time to let our fists speak!"

I couldn't agree more. And I will believe it when the bell finally rings.

&#8226; Oh, the delicious opportunities the woeful sanctioning bodies offer to expose them for their absurdity. They don't even pretend that any of this makes sense anymore. On April 9 in Germany, super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz will face fellow titlist Dimitri Sartison in what is being billed as a unification bout. Here's the problem: Sartison owns the WBA's regular title, a belt he was allowed to fight for when Andre Ward, the No. 1 168-pounder in the world, was "elevated" to super champion.

When the WBA began its use of the miserable "regular" and "super" titles about a decade ago, they were supposedly meant for unified titleholders to have more time to make mandatory defenses (even though anyone with a brain knows it was merely a way to bill for more sanctioning fees). The WBA would "promote" unified titleholders to "super" champions and then sanction a "regular" title fight. Then the WBA simply ignored that and began naming "super" titleholders who had only one belt, while also sanctioning "regular" title bouts. That's what happened with Ward, a one-belt titleholder. That means the winner of Stieglitz-Sartison will become the first unified regular titleholder! Or maybe the winner will be named "super" titleholder and Ward will be named "super super" titleholder. Or how about "super duper" titleholder? The madness never ends.

&#8226; Props to Showtime for finally doing something I have advocated be done by the premium channels for a long time: Use one of its multiplex outlets to beef up its boxing coverage. On Friday, Showtime will use its Showtime Extreme channel to televise live coverage of the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga weigh-in ahead of their junior middleweight title bout on Showtime PPV on Saturday night. The half-hour weigh-in show from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will be produced by promoter Top Rank and hosted by Ines Sainz of TV Azteca and ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr.. It airs at 6 p.m. ET (taped delayed on the West Coast, unfortunately) and will feature the weigh-in for all eight fighters on the pay-per-view portion of the show: Cotto, Mayorga, Yuri Foreman, Pawel Wolak, Miguel Vazquez, Lenny Zappavigna, Tommy Zbikowski and Richard Bryant.

"Showtime continues to explore different ways to expand the reach of boxing, and televising the weigh-in of a major pay-per-view card is just one of the many innovations we will be exploring," said Showtime Sports chief Ken Hershman. "Earlier this year, Showtime Extreme re-launched as the place to find Showtime Sports telecasts after their original airings on Showtime. By adding live content for the first time, we are bolstering the channel's value to our subscribers even more."

I couldn't agree more with Hershman. Showtime and HBO have several multiplex stations apiece, and it's great to see them being put to use for worthwhile boxing programming (which, by the way, is very inexpensive). Next, I'd like to see one of the networks use its outlets to air additional undercard action from pay-per-views or network cards. Showtime's weigh-in show also will be available in HD and streamed on sports.sho.com and www.toprank.com/TRLivestream.

&#8226; I'm looking forward to seeing Sugar Ray Leonard on "Dancing With the Stars." Bet he can still move, oh-so smoothly.

&#8226; I really like the prospect of a summer fight between Devon Alexander and Lucas Matthysse.

&#8226; Last month was the WBC's 48th anniversary of its creation. That's about 48 years too many.

&#8226; Do we really have to wait until May for the Super Six semifinals? How long is this thing going to drag out?

&#8226; So Joshua Clotty tripped in a pothole running and injured his ankle and wrist, forcing him to pull out of Saturday's fight on the Cotto-Mayorga undercard. Guess we have to add Clottey's pothole to similar prefight dangers, such as Alexander Povetkin's tree root and Zab Judah's shower door.

&#8226; We're only in early March, but Robert Garcia has to be the early favorite for trainer of the year honors. He has had a big year already, guiding two of his charges to significant wins: Nonito Donaire's crushing second-round knockout of Fernando Montiel to earn Donaire a pair of bantamweight belts; and Brandon Rios' come-from-behind 10th-round stoppage of Miguel Acosta for a lightweight belt.

&#8226; I am happy to see that Donaire will get back in the ring fairly quickly after his win over Montiel. He's due back May 28. The names that have been mentioned to me as potential opponents are titleholder Anselmo Moreno in a unification match and junior bantamweight titlist Hugo Cazares. I'm hoping the fight with Moreno gets done. He's one of the best fighters in the world that most American fans haven't seen.

&#8226; Big couple of weeks for birthdays. Shout-outs to super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute (31), junior middleweight titlist Sergei Dzinziruk (35), Montiel (32), former super middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler (32) and trainer Freddie Roach (51), who celebrated their day.

&#8226; Paging Alfredo "Perro" Angulo.

&#8226; DVD pick of the week: How could it be anything else on this day? I delved into the archive for a supreme copy of the closed circuit version of the fight from March 8, 1971, at New York's famed Madison Square Garden. Forty years ago today, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier squared off for the heavyweight championship in one of the biggest sporting events ever. Ali (31-0), recognized by many as the legitimate champion despite having been stripped of his title for refusing induction into the army, was fighting for the third time since a 3&frac12;-year banishment. During Ali's time on ice, Frazier (26-0) had won various belts, and his showdown with Ali was as big as it gets in boxing history. It lived up to the hype, too, as they waged a tremendously exciting fight, the first of their legendary trilogy. Frazier rocked Ali in the 11th round, but the biggest moment came in the 15th and final round when he dropped Ali with a big left hook to seal a comfortable unanimous decision in an unforgettable fight.