MIDWEEK MATTERS: David Haye vs. Tony Bellew- Who's going to win?!
David Haye and Tony Bellew meet this Saturday at the O2 Arena in one of the most highly-anticipated British boxing clashes of recent years.
The build-up to the fight has turned increasingly sour, with the two rivals coming to blows at a press conference in November, before being kept apart at a presser last weekend.
The fight represents a steep challenge for WBC cruiserweight champion Bellew, who is moving up to heavyweight for the first time in his career. He is undefeated in his last eight fights, with his last win coming in a routine title defence against American BJ Flores.
Former two-weight world champion Haye's return to boxing after a three-year absence has seen him overcome Australian Mark de Mori and Switzerland's Arnold Gjergjaj.
Sports Gazette looks ahead to the fight, discussing who will come out on top.
Tom Godfrey, Football Editor
Tony Bellew’s greatest claim to fame has been his cameo appearance alongside fellow Everton ‘fan’ Sylvester Stallone in the movie Creed and on Saturday night Haye will ensure it is all he will be remembered for.
Neither David Haye nor Tony Bellew have conceded an inch of mental mettle, however, at tomorrow’s weigh-in, both men must reveal how hard they have physically prepared.
The outcome of a boxing contest can often be pre-empted at the weigh-in.
While campaigning at light heavyweight, Bellew resembled a man who took his training camp seriously but was arguably weight drained and therefore transitioned to cruiserweight. However, since stepping up Bellew has abused his new weight classification and is rarely in optimum fighting condition.
In stark contrast, Haye treats his body with the utmost respect, rightly recognising it as the tool of his profession. At weigh-ins, there is more fat on a butcher’s pencil than on the rippling physique of the Hayemaker.
Bellew is considered a hard hitter, yet he has only won 64% of his fights by knockout.
Meanwhile, Bermondsey’s Haye has knocked out over 90% of his opponents. This statistic takes on further significance when you consider that Bellew is stepping up to Haye’s weight class, fighting for the first time at heavyweight - what little power the Liverpudlian has will not translate come Saturday.
Haye’s miserable ‘toe-gate’ performance will always haunt him. However, his 2007 annihilation of Jean-Marc Mormeck lives equally strong in the memory.
When Haye ripped the WBA (Super), WBC and The Ring cruiserweight straps from Mormeck he did so on the Frenchman’s turf at the Palais des sports Marcel-Cerdan, Levallois-Perret, Paris.
In contrast, Bellew’s sole excursion out of Britain resulted in a 2013 loss to Adonis Stevenson in Quebec. This was Bomber’s last defeat, and it came at the hands of a man five years his senior who was 36 – the same age as Haye.
History tells us that lazy interim conditioning ages a fighter, (just ask Ricky Hatton or Curtis Woodhouse) so Bellew’s two-year age advantage is null and void.
In summary, Bellew does not possess the concussive power to force a stoppage, and his conditioning suggests he is also not capable of taking the fight on points.
Guy Giles, Editor
Tony Bellew has been written off his whole career.
When he lost his first title fight to Nathan Cleverly in 2011, many expected Bellew’s career to never reach those heights again.
However, Bellew dusted himself off and worked his way up once more, taking the British, WBO International, and the WBC Silver titles in just over a year.
He defended his WBC Silver title in two brutal fights against Malawian Isaac Chilemba to earn another shot at a world title, this time against Canada’s Adonis Stevenson.
Again, ‘Bomber’ lost, with the fight ending in a brutal TKO for the Liverpudlian.
Bellew had now lost two world title fights in two years.
You would have been forgiven for jumping on the bandwagon and writing him off at this point.
Bellew’s determination remained, however, and he announced a move up to cruiserweight, where many believed he would be more comfortable.
And so it proved. Since then, Bellew is undefeated at 200lbs, earning four knockouts in his first six fights, including a rematch win over Nathan Cleverly, for his third shot at a world title.
He met Congo’s Ilunga Makabu at his beloved Goodison Park in a career-defining bout. In typical ‘Bomber’ fashion, Bellew recovered from a first-round knockdown to brutally finish Makabu and finally win the world title he deserved.
A routine title defence against American BJ Flores set the scene for Bellew to meet Haye this weekend, a fight in which many have again written ‘Bomber’ off.
Yes, the fight is at heavyweight, where Bellew has never fought before. Yes, Haye is a former world champion at said weight and is one of the most successful British heavyweights of recent years. Yes, Haye’s hand speed has traditionally been far superior to Bellew’s.
But there is one factor that will decide this fight, something that Bellew has consistently demonstrated throughout his career: heart.
‘Bomber’ has always managed to prove his doubters wrong, and Haye is the biggest sceptic of them all.
This fight will be an all-out war, and I’d take Bellew over Haye into battle any day.