Bellew has always been a realist about his chances in pro boxing, the self deprecating, self described fat mouthy scouser will be the first to tell you he has no idea how he went from working on the door at the same club as his father at age 19 to winning a world title on the football grounds of his favorite team where his boyhood idols once did tred to blagging his way into two huge money fights with a former two weight world champion, but with a wry smile and a twinkle in his eye he will tell ya in his thick scouse accent that he dun ate enny-whey!
Bellew now the “A side” on paper walked second to the ring as Zed Cars blared over head.
Coming off the longest layoff of his career - some 14 months. For Haye the last year has been snake bit with injuries. Recuperating from the ruptured achilles tendon he suffered in the first bout with Bellew, the injury that many thought was the difference maker first time around in Bellew’s victory. Then just weeks prior to the scheduled rematch in December of last year Haye sustained another injury - tearing his biceps while running stairs.
Meanwhile, Bellew was still trying to heal a broken heart. His brother in law Ashley Roberts whom he was very close to passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last August. The brother of Bellew’s long time partner Rachael was beloved within the family and Bellew was quite outspoken that he was not at all in the right frame of mind even prior to the cancellation.
Regardless, after months of delays and drama Bellew and Haye squared off across from each other in a sold out O2 Arena in London.
Round one was a cagey start by Haye who you will remember attempted to blast Bellew out with the first punch in the previous meeting! Haye worked behind a his jab this time around and it paid off. Bellew was never able to close the distance and work inside with body shots and his powerful left hook. For his part, Bellew showed some good footwork as well, denying Haye the middle distance where he is most dangerous with his potent right straight. Near the end of round one Bellew was caught square along the ropes where Haye managed to land a solid right hand, the most telling blow of the round.
In round two it was Bellew who appeared a bit more ragged, he could not land much more than a jab and his left to the body right to the head of Haye fell just short of being truly damaging, Haye managed to land two solid right punches again, one backed Bellew up against the ropes and Bellew raised both his arms up as if to pantomine Is That All You’ve Got? Haye copied Bellew’s pose as if to respond No Son, Lot’s Where That Came From!
Sky’s commentary team opined that Haye seemed a bit too heavy on the front foot, either because Haye really wanted to land the money shot or because he still favored that right lower extremity not trusting completely in the integrity of the delicate right achilles tendon.
Round three Bellew seemed to slowly reveal the game plan of forcing Haye to chase him where normally Haye prefers to counter, not much over all was going on until with just 16 seconds left to go in round three Bellew on the back foot caught Haye while the two traded shots in Bellew’s corner - a left hook and straight right caught Haye cold and the Haymaker slumped against the ropes, Haye jumped up before the ref even began to start his count, Haye grimaced, attempted to shrug it off but the mask has slipped, the poker face fooled nobody - in particular Bellew who smelled blood and jumped back on Haye with mere seconds to go Bellew caught Haye in another exchange this time landing the reverse of the previous combination - a right straight and left hook above the temple again dropped Haye heavily who struggled to his feet - his legs nearly collapsing under his weight, his right leg buckled and it appeared his body might fail him again in the rematch.
One could make an argument for Ismael Salas saving Haye between round four and five as Haye stumbled around unable to find his footing either because once again the right leg was gone or being separated from his senses from two heavy knockdowns in the previous round. Haye tried to wing shots at Bellew who dodged the majority and ate the rest further sapping the 37 year old’s reserves. Haye was in crisis as round four came to an end - the writing was on the wall - this fight would not last much longer.
In the corner before round five began Bellew’s trainer David Caldwell screamed at his fighter Jab-Jab-Jab knowing Bellew spent a lot of energy trying to stop Haye, also knowing with Haye fatigued and possibly injured again he might sell out on a reckless attack and returning to his jab would score for Bellew and keep him safe. Coyly, Bellew continued on the back foot, weaving and rolling shots that Haye did attempt and forcing the beleaguered man to chase him, just then Bellew took an angle circling to his left and caught Haye with a savage left hook that dropped Haye down face first! Bravely Haye struggled to his feet at nine however referee Howard John Foster was having a close look - Bellew sensing the time was now jumped on Haye and after eating two flush jabs and a glancing overhand right Foster jumped in to save Haye from what was surely a brutal unnecessary end.
Bellew sprinted away, kissing the bald head of friend and trainer Dave Caldwell and lept straight into the arms of Eddie Hearn who knows all too well what Tony Bellew has been through the last year.
Bellew collapsed along the ropes in tears, the full weight of emotion washing over him.
Haye, took no time again walking over to Bellew congratulating him on the performance.
Through the tears, Bellew gave an emotional post fight interview, he had sent his missus Rachael and three sons away on a holiday however had Ashley’s brother and father at ring side plus one empty seat for Ash who no doubt Tony believed was looking down celebrating his big victory in this contentious rematch.
For Haye, though contrite in defeat made no announcement that he was done with boxing despite saying over and over that should he not win in dominant fashion he would retire. No one needs to see David Haye in the ring again - the only man besides the great Evander Holyfield to unify the cruiserweight division and become heavyweight champion of the world has his legacy assured.
For Tony Bellew once he had collected himself was already promoting his next fight!
Calling out pound for pound king Andre Ward who has made some noises about coming out of retirement already and has bulked up to around the cruiserweight limit. The two men were briefly linked to fight last year however talks fell apart and Bellew was positioned for this rematch.
Say what you want about Tony Bellew, underestimate him at your own peril! He may not look like a matinee idol or have the stereotypical athlete's physique, he is an outsider - a misfit and tonight once again Tony Bomber Bellew is King of the Misfits.