He saw red, lost it, but Tony Bellew was proving a point to David Haye. As time was called on this breed against BJ Flores, Bellew went for his rival.
Security restrained him as the WBC cruiserweight champion climbed towards Haye in anger. Message sent. Message received. This was box office.
‘I’m the champion,’ he roared at Haye after a third-round stoppage of Flores, the fighter labelled a ‘clown’ but possessing no threat of giving Bellew a fright. In the end, he barely managed a fight.
Down three times in the second round, Flores was beaten before this begun. Brute power from Bellew. He sensed blood and from then on this was over, finished a round later. This was devastating.
‘Are you f****** watching?’ he asked Haye sat ringside, the man he so wants a crack at now. He then flew through the ropes for a physical confrontation in an unseemly manner. This drama is just the beginning in their story.
‘He has been conning the British public since this pathetic situation started. Listen, you predicted BJ was going to beat me, didn’t you? He got smashed.
‘I’ll put you and that pathetic haircut to sleep. I smashed your playboy and I’ll smash you.
‘He’s the same dimensions as me. I’m a little bit fatter and he’s better looking but he’s a cruiserweight. Brother, I’m the biggest pay day you could wish for.’
Bellew promised to ‘throw the kitchen sink, the whole lot’ at Flores in the tempestuous build-up to this first title defence.
Typically outspoken before returning in front of a home crowd at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, the Everton fan knew winning with a flourish was a must.
‘That probably does mean a knockout,’ he conceded. A knockout it was, in the third round, before emotion boiled over and he stormed towards Haye in anger.
Having stopped Ilunga Makabu at his beloved Goodison Park in May, this was another message sent – most importantly to the man sat just yards away when this was stopped.
Mairis Briedis is Bellew’s mandatory challenger next but the spectre of Haye looms larger for the Bomber.
He will have watched with interest, Bellew insistent that the pair will meet, potentially at a catchweight. The outburst at the finish quashed any doubt beforehand. if that did indeed exist.
There is a belief that millions will be on the table for both via box office should Eddie Hearn manage to manoeuvre a fight in the new year.
‘It has to happen,’ said Hearn. ‘I’ll leave it to them. It doesn’t need selling.’
The ball is firmly in Haye’s court now and what the ex-world champion saw here was power personified.
Flores, having only been defeated twice before this, had fancied his chances of upsetting the home favourite; Haye claimed similar.
It was, however, last chance saloon in his quest for a cruiserweight belt at the grand old age of 37.
Flores looked undeterred by the anthemic Z-Cars or being stared down by this city’s champion during the national anthems. Bellew was caught a couple of times.
That was until the American was caught in the second, dumped to his knees by a right hand and from there dazed and confused. This was done soon after, but it isn’t for Haye – not by a long shot.