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Haye/Bellew 2: Revenge? Or Repeat

A closer look at the fight that has got British Boxing talking!!

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By Aaron Cooper

5th March 2017. O2 Arena, London.

British boxing saw what has to be described as one of the biggest upsets in its long and storied history. Tony Bellew walked into an arena he had fought in twice before. But the level of competition and the risks involved had never been higher. Bellew had begun his professional career at light-heavyweight and had seen his hopes of a world title at the weight dashed not once but twice. Losing to Nathan Cleverly and being blown away by Adonis Stevenson, the popular Liverpudlian made the jump up to Cruiserweight picking up the European and a world title at the home of his beloved Everton Football Club. His career by his own admission, having exceeded his own expectations. So many eyebrows were raised when he decided to make the jump to boxing’s premier division. His choice of opponent a former two-weight world champion that had made a career out of producing devastating knockouts and stoppages. That man was David Haye. Such was Haye’s reputation that there were many, including a later admission from Bellew himself who genuinely feared for his safety.

But no one in the boxing world could of predicted what happened next … The bottom line is that David Haye underestimated ‘The Bomber’ and came into the ring expecting to blitz away the self-confessed ‘fat cruiserweight’. But that was not to be. The bout was fought at a slow pace, which played into the hands of Bellew. The Haye of old was seemingly long-gone. The fast-feet and razor-sharp punching made way for a slow-footed, wild swinging Haye. His shot picking disorganized, his range gone paving the way for a desperately frustrated Bermondsey man. The shot’s he did land Bellew was able to take and fire back. Haye looked to be in trouble. But his troubles were only just beginning. A ruptured Achilles tendon at the midway point of the point rendered him a one-legged man. Though he fought bravely, perhaps erasing the excuses of a certain heavyweight title fight years before. But it was all in vain. Haye suffered a humiliating defeat, being knocked through the ropes. In something reminiscent of a Rocky movie, Tony Bellew had shocked the world.

Present day.

Everyone loves a rematch. Bellew himself pointed out at the press conference that rematches rarely live up to expectation. Citing Barerra/Morales and Ward/Gatti as examples. So we ask ourselves will the outcomes be any different? Can Haye roll back the clock like he has claimed so many times before? Or will history repeat itself and can Bellew pull off an upset yet again?

Analysis

The biggest question I have asked myself is can Haye’s body hold itself together for long enough. At 37-years old, his prime is long gone. We do know that Haye will come in lighter than he did for their first fight. But the simple fact is Haye is not what he once was, and he knows it too! This contest will be the first for Haye under new trainer Ismael Salas. Salas has trained Guillermo Rigondeaux and Jorge Linares in the past. But in boxing, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. So I fail to see if there is anything different that Salas can do to improve the way he fights. Primarily ‘The Haymaker’ is a counter puncher, watching any of his fights from years gone by will show you this. He likes fighters to come to him, this enables him to throw his counters or hard pot shots to stop his opponent in his tracks.

We’ve seen from his previous bouts, especially against John Ruiz that Haye can throw hard shots from the front or the back foot. He is the naturally bigger man and harder puncher. Haye has more reach and longer jab. I also expect Haye to be much sounder of mind this time around. He really took what Bellew said to heart last time out and fought the wrong kind of fight. I expect a much more controlled Haye this time out, with a lower punch output. This is all about conserving energy as Haye has been known to gas in the later rounds..

And Bellew?

Bellew will be supremely confident going into this bout, as he holds a victory over Haye. But he is also a very, very clever fighter. He will know that he beat an injured man and this means he will not be complacent. If his trainer, Dave Coldwell is to be believed Bellew is in the shape of his life at 35 years old. Whilst he may not hold any physical advantages over Haye, he does hold others. Tony has been far more active than Haye, and injury free at best. Bellew is a fighter first and foremost. He knows how to navigate through a hard fight and to take away a fighter's strengths. Go back and watch the first fight again, Bellew was able to turn Haye whenever he felt like it. Rumours of an Achilles injury coming into the fight were picked up on by Bellew, as I said he is a clever man!

Bellew has always had a great engine, it’s one of the best in British boxing. I know that’s a big claim but the proof is in the pudding! He can go for 12 rounds, something I doubt his opponent can do.

Prediction

Bellew enters the ring knowing exactly what he is capable of. Haye does not, and I believe his history of injuries will have him boxing a very conservative fight. On paper Haye should win. But I have learned over the years that doubting Tony Bellew can and does prove foolhardy.

May the best man win!