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Haye says he's ready to compete for heavyweight crown

LONDON -- After winning his first heavyweight fight, David Haye looked WBC champion Vitaly Klitschko in the eye -- or rather, chin -- and said he's ready to challenge him for the title.

The 6-foot-3 Haye stood next to the 6-7 Klitschko after his five-round TKO over Monte Barrett on Saturday night. Haye said his five-knockdown performance should convince skeptics that he is ready to compete for the belt after moving up from cruiserweight.

"I will end up victorious. I'm positive about that," Haye said in a post-fight TV interview. "I don't mind if it is [against] Wladimir or Vitaly. He and his brother are the best in the world. That's why I want to fight these guys."

Klitschko was happy to go along.

"I was very impressed with the fight," Klitschko said. "Next year, it will be a great fight in Britain or Germany, in a big stadium."

Klitschko noted that he and Wladimir are scheduled to defend their titles against other fighters. So Haye will have to wait and take on another heavyweight.

"I'm looking forward to going out and fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world," Haye said later. "If that's next, then that's what I'll have. If not, if it is delayed for a while for some reason, then I'll get another fight in."

With a ringside seat, Klitschko undoubtedly noticed how easily Barrett hit Haye and lured him into a toe-to-toe punching contest.

Although the fight ended with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in the fifth round, both fighters regularly hit the canvas. Barrett went down before Haye entered the ring by mistiming his leap over the top rope, clipping it with his leg and landing on knees.

Barrett went down five more times under the weight of Haye's punches and had the British fighter down twice. Although referee Richie Davies ruled they were either slips or illegal pushes, even Haye admitted one was a knockdown.

While the American considers whether to carry on after failing against Wladimir Klitschko, Hasim Rahman, Nikolai Valuev and Haye, the British fighter who unified the cruiserweight world titles by knocking out Enzo Maccarinelli in March sees a clear route to heavyweight glory.

"I'm the number one cruiserweight in the world. Now I want to clean up the heavyweight division," he said. "To do that I need to get past the Klitschko brothers, hopefully beat one of the Klitschko brothers and then the other. Beat the two Klitschkos next year, that's my plan."

Haye, at 215 pounds, said he's not concerned he may not be heavy enough to take on one of the Klitschkos, who regularly weigh in at 250 pounds.

"I'm not going to fall into the trap of bulking up for the sake of it," he said. "It's all about speed. I'm not going to have a wrestling match and try and lift him up.

"I know he's a giant," he said of Vitaly Klitschko. "I think I can slay the giant."