Tony Bellew lands a left hand on the way to stopping David Haye at the O2 Arena on Saturday
Haye was knocked down twice in the third round but he was able to get to his feet and fight on
The little fat Scouser, as Tony Bellew describes himself, is raising his gaze to superstar stadium fights against Andre Ward and Tyson Fury at his beloved Everton’s Goodison Park.
The playboy of the boxing world, as David Haye calls himself, now faces the abyss of retirement or a black hole reeking of more corrosion of his record.
Bellew’s destruction of the Hayemaker has widened such unexpected horizons that he spent his Sunday lunch begging permission from the woman he marries this summer to carry on slugging.
After Haye was knocked down again in round five, referee Howard Foster stopped the contest
Meanwhile, Haye has had his hopes of a Wembley command performance against world champion Anthony Joshua put through the shredder of his broken body, and he is left rummaging among the debris of his career.
Bellew truly believes he can take down Ward, who will be ranked among the world’s pound-for-pound greatest boxers when he renounces his retirement, and Fury, as he makes his comeback.
Those of us who questioned Bellew’s capacity for thrashing Haye a second time had better be wary of doubting him again. His promoter harbours no such qualms.
Haye made the more aggressive start but was unable to maintain that level of performance
Eddie Hearn left the O2 long after midnight talking of 50,000 crowds at Goodison for Ward ‘soon’ and Fury ‘within a year’.
‘Ward now wants this fight,’ Hearn said. ‘As for Fury, when Tony was close to giving up on Haye ever being ready for this rematch, he shook hands with Tyson on a deal.
‘I told him, think about the low calibre of fighters Fury wants to face in his first few fights and that he ain’t gonna fight you now. But it can be a huge fight next year.’
Bellew took control of the fight in the third round as he landed some heavy blows on Haye
Bellew says simply: ‘Tyson’s not as big a puncher as Joshua, Deontay Wilder . . . or David Haye.’
Ward, 34, the multi-title world champion at super-middle and light-heavyweight who retired last year, is pondering a comeback and Bellew has approached him personally. The American appeared alongside the Liverpudlian in Creed, the latest movie in the Rocky franchise.
It is not known whether Bellew mentioned to Ward this opinion of how the fight, at an agreed cruiserweight, would go: ‘I would out-box Andre and knock him out,’ Bellew said on Saturday night.
‘I know you’ll laugh and say I’d have no chance. He’s an all-time great but I’m the only one who can beat him at his own biggest strength, boxing on the inside. He will always be remembered as greater than me but I have a certain set of skills which he has never faced before.’
At 37, in the parlance of his battle hymn, ‘there ain’t no help for the Hayemaker now’
Those techniques were as fundamental to Bellew’s conquests of Haye as the injuries which have plagued his more celebrated rival.
Whether or not Haye suffered a recurrence of his achilles tendon injury — he ruptured the tendon in their first fight 14 months ago — he was limping somewhat again. But Bellew’s expertise at close quarters was crucial, as was his willingness to withstand the power of those Hayemaker rights early on.
Bellew staggered twice in the opening two rounds. When he returned those blows with heavy interest in the third, the former world heavyweight champion hit the canvas, twice.
Somehow, Haye stumbled through a savaging in the fourth. Then, in the fifth, came a left hook from Hades. Haye went down again and when he lurched upright a third time he was out on his feet. Referee Howard Foster warily let him continue, but as Bellew went for the blitz, Foster was quick to save Haye from his own courage. The 20,000 capacity crowd roared their approval.
Bellew was emotional after the rematch and dedicated the victory to his late brother-in-law
Although it was not a world-class contest and no titles were at stake, this was a thriller in its own right, enacted by two men in the goldfish bowl of their personal enmity.
At 37, in the parlance of his battle hymn, ‘there ain’t no help for Haye now’, as he ponders a bleak future.
At 35, Bellew is coming of age. In the lyrics of four of his fellow Merseysiders: ‘You’ve got to believe he’s getting better, he’s getting better all the time.’