What next for Haye and Bellew?
We look at the options open to both men
It’s not often a British heavyweight fight lives up to the pre-match hype, but David Haye vs Tony Bellew did just that, and then some. We had a meeting of two styles which gelled perfectly, with knockdowns, knockouts, the drama of the build-up, followed by the genuine respect of the aftermath.
Both men put their bodies on the line in an attempt to prove a point, so much so that both celebrated with a trip to A&E. Hayemaker had surgery on a career-threatening Achilles tendon injury, while Bomber suffered a suspected broken hand, probably done on his opponent’s head.
Haye injury proved the turning point
Tony Bellew was, of course, the eventual winner, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in British boxing history, certainly in terms of the betting. He wasn’t given a chance before the off, but boxed a perfect fight, happy to lose the first couple of rounds and avoid Haye’s big, looping hooks, seemingly confident in the fact his opponent would slow down.
With Haye looking in charge, despite missing wildly with many of his bigger punches, the sixth round threw up an astonishing clash that appeared to aggravate a leg injury mentioned by Haye in the build-up. We now know the 36-year-old Londoner snapped a tendon, rendering him close to immobile. He couldn’t get power into his shots, couldn’t get around the ring with any fluency, and was a sitting duck – one which Bellew picked off at will.
Is it the end for brave Haye?
Scouser Bellew knew the fight had changed course at that precise moment, and could tell his foe was there for the taking. He did the damage with an 11th round TKO, knocking the favourite out of the ring in the process, but told fans afterwards that he had pleaded with Haye to quit before the stoppage, to avoid further, unnecessary punishment. Hayemaker refused, choosing instead to go out on his shield, and I can’t remember too many performances I’d consider braver than his that night, taking plenty of credit in defeat.
So, what next for both men? Well Haye wants the rematch, he was practically begging for it in the post-fight interview, taking special care to praise Bellew’s performance so as not to annoy the man he now needs a favour from. That should be some way off though. Bomber still has the WBC world title at cruiserweight, and Haye will be out injured for quite some time. If Bellew doesn’t give him the rematch, I don’t think we will see David back between the ropes. If not, he has been a fantastic servant to the sport.
Bellew vs Fury – now there’s a fight
Tony Bellew has no lack of options, but he is giving serious thought to retirement from the crazy sport of boxing. He has achieved one of the biggest wins in a British ring for many years, winning over all critics in the process. He could go back down to cruiser and defend, he could quit and spend his money, reportedly getting a share of £7m from the Haye fight, he could even quit, drum up the interest and make a mega-rich comeback. Or he could answer a very interesting challenge that was put to him this week.
Former heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury took to Twitter to ask his fans – who would like to see me take on Bellew at Goodison Park? We’d certainly raise our hand in support of that one, and it has sent social media into overdrive already.