Been on Mars?
Jon Sutton tells you all you need to know ahead of tonight’s big fight…
David Haye, from London and Tony Bellew, from Liverpool, in a highly anticipated rematch.
Bellew won the first encounter when Haye suffered an injury in the 6th round. Both are former Cruiserweights who are known for loving a tear up.
WHAT’S THE BACKGROUND?
Back in 2008, David Haye, having just cleared out the Cruiserweight class when he destroyed Enzo Maccarinelli, quickly moved up to Heavyweight and seemed to carry his punch with him.
Taking advantage of his incredible knock out power, Haye made easy work of four B-Listers before facing Ukranian legend Wladimir Klitschko, who easily outpointed Haye. A loss that the Englishman blamed on an injury.
Haye then went on to tear apart Britain’s own Dereck Chisora, in a fight that became as famous for the ugliness of their pre-fight encounters, as it was for the electric atmosphere at West Ham’s Upton Park on the night.
He then took almost four years off, some say living the high life, before coming back to “clear up” the Heavyweight division.
He started with a couple of easy wins before meeting Tony Bellew, last March.
Tony Bellew, the self-titled “Little Fat Scouser”, also decided to try out the Heavyweight division after departing from the lighter Cruiserweight class, where he’d racked up a couple of losses amongst his many wins, (Nathan Cleverly & Adonis Stevenson)… and he did so just as Haye was on the prowl for another victim to use as a punch-bag.
This was Haye’s attempt to show the Heavyweight elite that he was back in contention, this time against a big name, a man capable of filling an arena. But Tony Bellew & his army of Evertonian fans, had other ideas.
The pair met last March 4th, in what turned out to be one of the most explosive & competitive British Heavyweight match-ups in years, thanks to Tony Bellew’s guts & guile.
Bellew took everything Haye threw at him and landed many bombs of his own, before Haye tore his Achilles tendon in the sixth round. Bellew then took full control and, after a brave but brutal beating, Haye’s corner threw in the towel to end their fighter’s torment.
Tony Bellew had scored a massive upset victory.
Many say (including Bellew himself) that he may have only got the win courtesy of Haye’s injury, but (ironically) David Haye refuses to follow that script, instead giving Bellew full credit and recognising that he needs to do the work for the rematch.
Both men seem keen to act the underdog.
After what’s been a tough year for Tony Bellew (he lost his brother-in-law in the time that he’s been waiting for a rematch), he is keen to prove it was no fluke, continuously hashtagging #REPEAT (versus Haye’s #REVENGE) on social media.
WHAT’S HAPPENED IN THE BUILD UP?
Tony Bellew, even whilst smirking & denying all guilt, has used every trick in the book to get under David Haye’s skin, constantly demeaning him in a cool, condescending manner that’s clearly designed to rile.
Haye has tried desperately to block this out, but has occasionally fallen for Bellew’s tricks before realising it’s all game plan, then reeling himself back in.
Even though Bellew is known for his big mouth, having drawn even the calm Nathan Cleverly into a tirade of two-way abuse prior to both of their grudge matches (first a loss, then a win), it was actually Tony who came across relatively modest in the build up to the first fight – Haye Bellew 1 as it’s now known. (Haye had his name first for that one.)
Whilst it was Haye, prior to Number 1, that had shouted about his predicted two-round destruction of the Liverpool man, for all the world to hear.
Oh how wrong he was. And oh how the tables have turned…
Haye is no stranger to mind games himself, having previously done all he could to wind up Chisora (successfully) and Klitschko (less so), but in the build up to this rematch, he has been entirely withdrawn. His defeat at the hands of Tony Bellew has perhaps stayed with him. Haye has allowed Bellew to talk and talk and talk and tried his damnedest not to react.
Even at their final press conference, when Bellew finally dropped the trash talk and tried to push Haye, quite literally, into a brawl, grabbing his neck and throwing him back into the gathered cameramen before security stepped in… Haye simply stared back before removing himself.
Bellew defended his actions by accusing Haye of pushing his face into his own personal space, but the replay shows that it was actually Bellew stepping forward to ensure that Haye did this (or step back himself, which fighters just don’t do), hence justifying the push that he probably planned in advance.
Regardless of who started it, David Haye still did not react, instead he walked away to go about his business. A total reversal to his usual character, one that is known for this type of hype.
Perhaps a sign that Haye was ready to bite back came at the weigh in yesterday, when for the first time since the fight was announced, he repeatedly shouted over Bellew and then paraded around centre stage showing off his biceps.
For a few seconds there, even Tony Bellew was lost for words.
SO DID BELLEW’S MIND GAMES WORK?
Is Haye scared though? No. Not of Bellew at least, he’s faced bigger hitters. But maybe he is scared for his career. As Bellew consistently reminds Haye, even a points loss here would bring his career to an end.
Is he wound up beneath the mask? Definitely. There is no hiding it. Bellew is an expert in mind games and Haye’s fake laugh in response to Bellew’s banter only causes Bellew to suggest Haye needs a better acting coach.
WHO SHOULD I SUPPORT?
There’s a fairly simple north-south divide building up here, but even if you’re from the north, you may not be from Liverpool. And even if you’re from Liverpool, you might hate Evertonians.
The down-side of Tony Bellew taking an army of blue fans on the road with him is that he might push the red ones into the Haye camp. It never did Ricky Hatton any harm though.
But if that doesn’t help you decide, let’s move away from the territoriality of the terraces for a moment…
David Haye personifies the smooth, cocky Londoner and has seemed most at home sipping cocktails on his yacht in Miami over the last few years, such has been his pride over his perceived domination of the world boxing scene.
And maybe this was justified since he can boast a knock out percentage close to three figures. David Haye is the most explosive heavyweight out of the UK in generations.
So if you like to see knock-out action followed by audacious displays of wealth & confidence… pick David Haye.
Tony Bellew is a family man. A street-bred Scouser. A man of the people. Unless you’re from Wales (and therefore a Cleverly fan) there’s a good chance you might actually find some entertainment in his brash berating of the opposite camp.
And more so in his style. It’s hard to work out exactly what that style is, but he certainly moves fast for a “fat bloke” and he often makes supposedly superior boxers look stupid, when he ducks their haymakers, pops a jab, then laughs in their face.
So if you prefer a big-mouthed British battler who’s willing to push his body & bravery to their very limits in order to feed his family… pick Tony Bellew.
BUT WHO SHOULD WIN, REALLY?
David Haye. All night. Even as the older man. He may have lost to Klitschko and Bellew, but he was injured on both occasions. This fight really could end his career, so expect him to come in in incredible shape, then come out throwing his trademark “Hayemakers”.
If he lands his bombs early, he can take out any of the smaller Heavyweights such as Bellew (both weighed in under 16 stone) and even if Bellew survives the early rounds, Haye should only need to utilise the jab he left at home last time out, to get a better result.
That said, Tony Bellew is a man who loves causing an upset. He did walk through some early bombs last time and he did rock Haye in the first round. He’s also a man utterly convinced of his destiny, with a massive travelling army and with his own retirement in mind. He only does this for his family afterall.
“Should” doesn’t apply to Tony Bellew. He’s told us all that. And it’s difficult not to believe him.
WHAT’S ON THE UNDERCARD?
Tons, make sure you see them all. But keep a special eye on Paul Butler, Joe Joyce & Kody Davies.