Bellew v Haye II preview
Like, I think, most fight fans I expected the first Haye vs Bellew fight to be over pretty quickly. Haye was, I felt, just too big, too strong, too quick and too good for Bellew. Given that Bellew had often been unable to handle the power of Light Heavyweights, and Haye is notoriously a monster puncher I just couldn’t see past an easy Haye victory. I was imagining an pair of smoking boots in the middle of the ring a la a scene from Asterix.
Clearly this was an opinion that David Haye shared and it was clear from the outset that he didn’t really consider it a challenge, hadn’t prepared properly, and wasn’t in any way ready for what happened in the ring. The loss that ensued has clearly hurt Haye more than anything else in his career.
I like Bellew a lot, I know he is a bit marmite for some fans but I love listening to him talk about boxing, even when I profoundly disagree with him. I think he has a great analytical boxing brain and how he thinks about the sport is often full of fascinating insights.
Of course he called the first fight pretty much right. Almost all of what he described and predicted, pre fight, ultimately came to pass. Now it has been very interesting listening to him break down what he thinks is going to happen in the next fight.
He contends, very convincingly, that even though David Haye is going to be better, and better prepared the result will be no different. That his superior boxing brain, and his superior ability to adapt in the ring (both things are true for my money), combined with having a style that is all wrong for Haye mean that not only will he repeat the feat of the first fight but he will do so more impressively whether or not Haye gets injured this time.
He is big on the styles thing. He rightly talks about how if it was always just the biggest, most skilled fighter who won the sport would be dull. But that boxing excited because it isn’t always a case that if (A beats B), and (B beats C) then (A beats C). Different styles sometimes mean that the “on paper” superior fighter can’t get past someone who has their number. And Bellew absolutely believes that he has Haye’s number.
Truth is when I listen to Bellew I come away almost convinced. Almost, but not quite. You see I think that whilst his win in the first fight was very impressive. I do think that he is telling himself some fairy stories about what happened and engaging in some historical revisionism.
I think that even David Haye’s biggest fan (that almost certainly being David Haye) would admit that he was god awful in the first few rounds of the first fight. He looked every inch the man who had not had a meaningful professional boxing match in 5 years (I’m not counting the De Mori and Gjergjaj exhibitions as real fights). He was inaccurate, rusty, disrespectful and sloppy. He was even breathing worrying hard by the end of the third.
My suspicion is that Bellew chooses to suspend his critical faculties from this point onward though because for my money from the end of the third onward Haye starting bucking up, showing some of his skills and the rust was coming off. He starting landing more and landing better. I honestly believe that had Haye not received the injury he did then he would have landed hard and some point in the next couple of rounds, which I suspect would have been lights out for Bellew.
But he did get that injury, and a ruptured achilles tendon is not some minor little hurt that a pro sportsman can shrug off. And this is really, for me, where the wheels start falling off Bellew’s analysis of the first fight and the prospects for Saturday’s bout. Because despite suffering a career threatening injury Haye managed to hang around, and still pose a modicum of threat, for another six rounds.
Ultimately Tony Bellew was unable to put away a one legged David Haye, who clearly hadn’t had a proper camp and hadn’t taken the fight seriously. In the end the fight required Haye’s corner to throw in the towel to stop the fight that Bellew couldn’t.
So for me, in what constituted a career highlight performance, Bellew couldn’t quite get over the line in what turned out to be the most benign possible conditions for him in a fight with David Haye.
Now Haye’s body can’t be relied upon any longer. It is, I think, eminently possible that he will suffer another injury that allows Tony Bellew to repeat the trick of the first fight. I actually think that this is a seriously likely possibility, I might even drop a few quid on this happening.
But, I think if Haye is fit throughout the fight, if he has taken his camp more seriously (as it seems he has) I think his superior size, strength, skill and power will tell in the later rounds. I think Bellew is a canny enough boxer that he will make things difficult for several rounds; but I just can’t see him preventing a fit Haye from landing clean for 12 whole rounds. Bellew has to get lucky for 36 minutes constantly. Haye has to get lucky for 2 seconds once.
Haye via KO in the seventh.
Also published on Medium.