This was definitely the shock of the weekend! Who would have thought that Tony Bellew, a stone lighter than David Haye would pull off a stoppage in the 11th Round. However, reading that does not give you the true representation of how the fight panned out.
There was a huge build-up to this fight and a lot of excitement and anticipation for it, with lots of questions to be answered such as: Can David Haye return to top level boxing? or Can Tony Bellew hold his own against heavyweights? If you were listening to Sky pundits or reading their social media platforms then many would think that these questions were answered but in truth there are so many ways to look at this fight and I’m going to give my opinion on how I think David Haye Vs Tony Bellew went as a whole.
Before the fight had started we had already seen two retirements in the ring from veterans Derry Matthews and Paulie Malignaggi. Both being stopped by Ohara Davies and Sam Eggington respectively. If Bellew pulled off a victory could we be seeing a third?
Haye was predicting a KO win within 3 rounds and many boxing fans across the country including myself were expecting the same outcome with only a small minority and Sky pundits/Matchroom fighters questioning Haye and backing Bellew. It was as if Bellew wanted to prove he could last the three rounds and get through them as then people believed the fight would become an equal affair. Those first 3 rounds was reminiscent of the fight Haye had with Audley Harrison. Haye attacking looking for the knockout with both opponents just trying to move without really adding an sort of reply. The pace of the fight then increased a little after this with Bellew able to land a couple of counter punches but with Haye still looking the aggressor but still missing a lot of shots, something you never see from Haye in the past as he was very quick and landed a lot more than Saturday night. It seemed Haye was forcing the fight way too much something he is not been guilty of in the past as he normally has a calm stance and picks his shots a lot better. Watching the fight I believed this was down to the anger he has built up in the pre-fight rituals, Bellew had gotten to him like no one has before but could the real reason be down to his physical condition?
Haye was getting caught with counters as he was forcing the fight a lot in the first 5 rounds but for me he was 4-1 up at this point. This was until his leg jolted and from that point on David Haye’s right leg crumbled showing Haye to be in a lot of pain and struggling to stand up right let alone move around the ring. His Achilles had been rumoured to have been playing up before the fight with talk of the fight being cancelled after Haye visiting a doctor over in Munich just two days before the fight. Eddie Hearn and Tony Bellew rejected this saying they knew he had a slight problem a few weeks before the fight but he was having a kick about on Soccer Am so they presumed all was well. Maybe, the visit to the doctor was to see if the Achilles could hold up for the later rounds and the view of the doctor was possibly that it wasn’t strong enough to last hence why Haye went for the full force from the start. Of course this is all a guessing game, something we may never find out but it just seems that Haye wasn’t the same man who had been a top British boxer for many years before.
There’s one thing you cannot question from the fight however, is the heart and courage shown by ‘The Hayemaker’. A ruptured Achilles is commonly seen as one of the most painful injuries to sustain and for Haye to get through 5 rounds with it shows immense bravery and shows he is a real fighter in the ring. Something that has been questioned in the past due to the Broken Toe excuse and twice pulling out of Fury fight. He also seemed that he could still take Bellew’s punches with no problem whatsoever, the only problem was sustaining his balance due to him not being able to put his weight on his right leg. He also caught Bellew in the 10th and I think if he could of got Bellew cornered and followed up with cleaner punches then it could’ve been a different story. The first five rounds were not great, was a bit of a chess game in a way with Bellew looking for the right time to counter whilst Haye tried to find the right move to get near Bellew. The injury hindered what could’ve been 7 rounds of top quality boxing and I do think it would’ve been the cracker that Sky are labelling it as if Haye didn’t damage his Achilles. I felt it wasn’t a huge upset due to this because Haye was stationary for 5 rounds, wasn’t once dazed and Bellew was landing clean shots to no avail until Haye’s balance made him go out of the ring. I also felt the reaction of Eddie Hearn and Dave Coldwell were of poor taste and rather cringe worthy to watch because Bellew wasn’t his best either and Haye was carrying on for pride more than anything. I felt Tony Bellew showed real class to ignore them and go straight to Haye but after watching some clips of him in his changing room after the fight, he believes he outclassed a one-legged Haye but in reality he had a gameplan until the injury and then tried to bombard Haye looking to knock him out but didn’t succeed.
It seemed like we saw the end of the Hayemaker Saturday night, seeing him hobble out of the ring he looked a different man altogether. The courage shown by him was for the fans and critics who had previously said he makes excuses and is soft but he soldiered on for 5 rounds, something that could have done more harm than good to his right leg. I certainly hope a rematch could be arranged if he makes a full recovery. The fans who paid £20 to witness the fight were hoping to get what they paid for but the injury dampened any chances of a classic.
Although I did not rate his performance, congratulations to Tony Bellew! He can sometimes be a fighter you love to hate but he can show class and I suppose that the fight was there for the taking and he had to fight what was in front of him.