By John J. Raspanti
First off, I need to make a confession. Last March, when Tony Bellew and David Haye faced off against each other at the O2 Arena in London, Eng, I predicted a Haye victory.
It wasn’t a difficult prediction. Haye is blessed with speed, power and talent. He fought twice before facing Bellew, blitzing his opponents in minutes. He looked quick and powerful, but it must be noted, his opposition was less than impressive. Their records (a combined 59-1) suggested some ability, but records, especially in boxing, can be very misleading.
Haye proved this by scoring knockouts while barely breaking a sweat. It looked impressive to most, but not to Tony Bellew. A few months later, Bellew stopped Haye’s good buddy, B.J. Flores. Seconds after the bout ended, Bellew fired some verbal shots at former two-time titleholder, David Haye.
“You see him?” Bellew hollered at Haye, who was working the fight as a ringside commentator. “He’s been conning the British public since that pathetic comeback of his.
"David, let’s be totally honest, brother," shouted Bellew. "Those two guys you just fought, they’re in town now. They’re either working on nightclub doors or they’re putting the bins away. Those two guys you fought last were a joke."
As the fans in the arena booed, Haye, with a bemused look, locked eyes with Bellew. Many boxing fans have never forgiven the British champion for his ridiculous performance against then-heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitschko in 2011.
Soon after, Haye accepted the challenge. But that’s just it. He didn’t consider Bellew much of a challenge. He fired insults and talked body bags.
“I overestimated how good I was,” Haye told www.skysports.com a few weeks ago. "I thought I was as good as I was in 2012.”
Haye, with an ego the size of his native country, figured all he’d have to do is tag Bellew once, and the Liverpudilian would collapse like a cheap Beatles impersonator.
Not so. After Haye got off to a lead, using his jab and superior athleticism, Bellow battled back. Haye was ahead on points when he tore his Achilles tendon in round six. Bellow took advantage and stopped a bewildered, but courageous, Haye in round 11.
Told to retire, Haye asked for a rematch. The date was set for last December, but Haye suffered another in a series of injuries. May 5 was chosen, with many doubting that Haye could stay healthy. He has.
He’s also refused to get into a war of words with Bellew.
“I could add another million pounds to the earnings of this fight by throwing a glass of water at a press conference or slapping him,” said Haye. “I don’t want to be known for just selling tickets and pay-per-view television.
“How about the merit of my work? At thirty-seven, I’m thinking about how I want to be remembered.”
Bellew, winner of nine fights in succession, isn’t buying Haye’s reasoning or his new modesty.
“He’s about as modest as Madonna,” Bellow said. “David wasn’t humbled.”
OK, enough from the fighters, lets breakdown the bout.
Bellew (29-2-1, 19 KOs) is a former cruiserweight champion. His loses were at the hands of former champions Nathan Cleverly whom, and light heavyweight champion, Adonis Stevenson. Bellew likes the outside game. He’s not particularly fast, but he can punch and is extremely determined. His boxers brain is a good one.
Haye (28-3. 26 KOs) was the WBC and WBO cruiserweight titleholder in 2007 and 08. He captured the heavyweight championship by outboxing Russian giant Nikolay Valuev. He’s the more skillful fighter with quicker hands and feet, and more power. Both fighters have something to prove.
Can Bellew do it again?
Will Haye get his revenge?
I’m going with Haye ‘if” his body holds up. Bellew is rough and tough, but the cream usually rises to the top.
If Haye has enough left, he should be able to beat Bellew.