Haye-Bellew: The Five Big Questions plus Prediction & Odds
By Michael J Jones
AN UNLIKELY GRUDGE match which has divided opinions in the boxing world in more ways than one. When WBC cruiserweight champion Tony “Bomber” Bellew faces former two-weight world titlist David Haye next Saturday at the O2 Arena, it will conclude a long, bad-tempered build-up which has been rolling on for some six months.
Both men have their fans and detractors in their respective droves, but neither (the seemingly endless) trash-talking, tension or mud-slinging between the two men can get away from the fact this is a good fight between two of the UK’s most successful pugilists of recent years.
Most of the boxing community point to Haye being the bigger man with an edge in speed and power and hint at an early, explosive victory for him. Bellew has been stopped before and by a smaller man in Adonis Stevenson; but is that the foregone conclusion people are saying?
Here Livefight asks five big questions ahead of the non-title heavyweight clash which will be screened on Sky Sports Box Office in just a handful of days.
1. Does Tony Bellew actually believe he can win this fight?
If a man becomes hell-bent on making a fight in boxing it’s usually for one of two reasons; either he firmly believes he can win or he’s taking it for the inflated purse. To this writer’s knowledge a contest between the two punchers had never been even vaguely suggested until that chaotic moment after Bellew knocked out long-time Haye sparring partner BJ Flores last October.
Haye was sat ringside as the WBC cruiserweight champion screamed abuse from the ring in heated scenes. Just days later the fight was getting forged together by the respective teams but, if anything, the hatred has spiralled since that night between the two bitter rivals.
The 34 year old Bellew is long-known for his fiery nature ahead of fights but he seems to be especially loathsome towards Haye, often suggesting the “Hayemaker” has been pampered throughout his highly-prolific career.
Hate rarely means genuine confidence though but in this case I believe Bellew is coming to win. He’s younger, has been far more active in recent years and is in the form of his life after wiping out both Ilunga Makuba and BJ Flores in style. The out-spoken Scouser has hinted at a suspected decline in Haye (“he’s not the fighter of six or seven years ago”) and may be confident from the infamous sparring session from several years ago in which he claims he clearly got the better of the Bermondsey man.
2. The weight issue; will it matter?
The fight has been set at the heavyweight limit (i.e. no limit), which at first glance favours long-time heavyweight Haye. Since knocking out Enzo Maccarinelli in two rounds back in March 2008, Haye has been a fully-fledged heavyweight so while Bellew makes his debut at boxing’s highest division, Haye has been there for nine long years right?
OK so the above is true but it’s not as cut-and-dry as appears. Bellew was a strapping amateur who was an ABA heavyweight champion on three occasions before slimming right down for his pro debut nearly ten years ago.
The Liverpool fighter made no secret to the fact he struggled mightily every camp making weight but continued until he was hammered in six by Adonis Stevenson three years ago. Since moving up, Bellew has gone 8-0 with six knock-outs in decent company.
Plus, is it really that bad getting stopped by one of the biggest punchers in the 175lb division while severely weight-weakened? Nobody has wanted to mention incidentally, Haye got knocked out by a 40 year old who was supposedly shot…or that he was floored heavily early in his career against blown up super-middleweight Lolenga Mock.
Both men are 6’3” and Haye for most of his fights has weighed around 210lbs; just 6lbs above the cruiserweight limit. For his last two comeback contests, the 36 year old Haye has been nearer 224 and may be that again come Saturday night. Bellew has said he will come in at under 220 so there probably will only be a few pounds between them come fight night.
I expect Bellew, after top-class sparring with the likes of Dereck Chisora, will be comfortable at the (slightly) higher weight and will be sharp. Don’t be surprised either if the “Creed” star looks the bigger man on the night as he usually boxes tall while Haye fights in a slight crouch.
Worth noting also is the fact Haye has the longer reach by some four inches.
3. Has Haye taken this fight seriously?
It’s always hard to gauge what’s on Haye’s mind but some of his behaviour recently has been rather baffling. Just before a major fight it’s simply not usual for a fighter to praise his training camp as if it’s been a holiday and then go out with celebrity pals to fashion shows.
Does the former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion see this as an easy fight to the point he’s not at all worried about what Bellew brings to the fistic table? Haye hasn’t been in a competitive bout for nearly five years and encountered little resistance in the pair of Mark de Mori and Arnold Gjergjaj in his two return fights.
Many have started calling Haye “Boxrec man” as whenever his opponent gets announced we all have to search Boxrec as we have no clue who it is (funny).
Although the Londoner seems mostly relaxed, I feel he is experienced enough to know any fight is dangerous and he will have trained hard for this. Trainer Shane McGuigan will have put him through a gruelling camp and Haye will be all business on the night.
4. Will Haye’s inactivity bite him on the ass?
The brash Haye was a revelation as an amateur and a young pro and seemed fearless as he cut through the pro cruiserweight ranks with a string of explosive knock-outs. Only Carl Thompson bested Haye in the under 200lb cruiserweight division, out-lasting his much-younger opponent before dispatching him in five torrid rounds.
After returning to win the European title, Haye would stop Frenchman Jean Marc Mormeck on away turf to become the WBC and WBA world champion. To top an excellent campaign at the weight, Haye would blitz Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli in two to add the WBO belt to solidify his status as one of the best men to compete at the weight.
The “Hayemaker” would then move up to heavyweight in search of a match with world number one Wladimir Klitschko. First he out-boxed the far bigger Nicolai Valuev to become WBA heavyweight champion in Germany.
He then followed up with another solid display in stopping former champion John Ruiz in nine rounds six months later. After one more defence (that awful farce with Audley Harrison) Haye got his wish and fought Wladimir Klitschko in Germany for the unified heavyweight titles.
Haye lost the decision that night but vowed to return which he did…after a year off. Twelve long months after his loss to Klitschko, Haye knocked out Dereck Chisora in five at Upton Park but then wasn’t seen again in a ring until three-and-a half years later.
Fights with Tyson Fury (twice) and Manuel Charr all fell through as many questioned if Haye actually still wanted to be a fighter anymore.
The Londoner, now 28-2 (26), has had those two comeback fights last year (three rounds of action) since that Chisora fight. In that same time Bellew, with a similar over-all record of 28-2-1 (18), has boxed thirteen times and has been in tough, competitive matches not just easy one-sided, blow-outs. If this fight goes over the four-round mark, Haye will be in a position he hasn’t been in for a long time.
If Bellew is planning a cagey start to the fight, Haye could struggle in a physically-gruelling fight (especially if he hasn’t caused any significant damage to his foe). It’s bound to play on Haye’s mind if the going does get tough.
5. Will emotions affect the fight on the night?
The build-up has been one of the most heated in recent memory between two fighters who genuinely seem to despise one another. Could things get so heated on Saturday night something crazy may happen?
Bellew has been very animated in build-ups before yet boxed conservatively on the night (the Edison Miranda fight springs to mind). As a light-heavyweight he often disappointed fans by talking the talk but on the night fall short of walking the walk.
Since he has moved up the careful boxing has evolved and Tony has been more attack-minded in his cruiserweight campaign. Against Makuba to win his WBC title, Bellew was formidable. Dropped in the first, Bellew fought back hard and went all-out in the third to end matters.
A massive final left hook took everything out of the South African on the ropes for a clinical stoppage and Bellew was equally business-like in stopping Flores five months later.
Haye has seemed increasingly uncomfortable as the build-up has progressed. Bellew has undoubtedly gotten under his skin at various times but I doubt Haye will be anything but controlled on fight night. In Haye’s mind; Bellew can’t take his power and he only needs two or three good shots for the fight to be over.
Expect Bellew to behave too as he will be trying to execute a carefully-constructed game-plan and won’t want to give Haye any advantages by being silly.
Haye will start the fight the huge 1/6 favourite with Bellew 4/1. For a Haye KO it’s 1/3 while Bellew is far wider at 7/1. Points victory to Haye is 5/1 with Bellew 14/1. The draw is 33/1 with a victory inside three rounds to Haye a very short 15/8. The same bet for Bellew is a whopping 18/1.*
*Odds courtesy of William Hill.
It’s a tough fight to call as we don’t quite know what Haye has got left at 36 after barely fighting for half a decade and it’s hard to say what will happen when they both start to land their respective bombs. I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see a slow start as both try hard not to make any mistakes and walk into a big shot early.
For Bellew, he will try to keep an air-tight defence and take the fight into the second half whilst keeping a strong, busy jab into Haye’s face to break up momentum before cranking up the pressure from round four or five.
With Haye it’s simple; he’s going to jab, feint and try to set up a big right-hand or left hook and when he sees a weakness he will try to seize his moment and end the fight there and then.
I see Bellew falling early but rising to make it through the first few rounds. Just as the gutsy Scouser starts to make some ground back I envision Haye finding an opening for a massive shot; probably a booming right-hand. That moment will change the fight irreversibly. A following barrage will bring the referee’s intervention and give victory to David Haye.
Haye by KO in five rounds.
To book the big fight with Sky Box Office go to http://www.skysports.com/haye-vs-bellew/news/34770/10770257/1