Boxing superstar David Haye made his return to the ring tonight in the Sky Sports main event to face Tony Bellew in a long awaited rematch. Haye injured himself early in the first fight and went on to lose a decision. Here are the highlights.
VIDEO AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE:
Following his win over BJ Flores in October, WBC Cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew immediately hit out a verbal assault on rival Haye, who was ringside, repeating he’s next. Referring to Haye as ‘Sideshow Bob’, Bellew carried on the verbal assault in the post fight interview using profanity and taunting Haye stating he has been ‘conning the British public’ since he announced his comeback. Eddie Hearn claimed the fight could take place at heavyweight or at cruiserweight for Bellew’s WBC title.
On 25 November 2016, Hearn announced on Twitter that Haye and Bellew would face each other in a heavyweight bout on 4 March 2017 at the O2 Arena, London. The fight was shown on Sky Box Office and was Bellew’s first heavyweight fight. At the first press conference on 30 November, a fight broke out as Haye and Bellew went face to face and it appeared on the replay, Haye had managed to land a left hook on Bellew, leaving a mark. Both fighters were then separated before going their own ways. On 3 March 2017, Haye weighed 224.9 pounds, heavier than Bellew who came in at 213lbs, a career high.
The bout started as a stalemate until the sixth round, when Haye injured his Achilles causing him to fall twice. Bellew then took control of the fight as Haye opted to continue. Bellew knocked Haye down out of the ropes late in the eleventh round. Haye managed to make it to his feet, but his corner threw in the towel, giving Bellew a TKO win. Bellew credited Haye for his bravery, while Haye refused to blame his injury and stated that Bellew was “by far the better fighter”, though stated that he wanted a rematch.
Haye was taken to the hospital following the bout but was released the next morning. Haye ruptured his right achilles tendon and underwent surgery. At the time of stoppage, Bellew lead on all three scorecards 96-93. With a 60-40 split of the £7 million purse, Haye earned £4.2 million while Bellew earned £2.8 million, his biggest purse by far. It was reported that the fight generated 890,000 buys on Box Office PPV. Despite the loss, Haye was widely praised for his performance in fighting on whilst severely injured. As Kevin Mitchell of the Guardian newspaper summed up of the fight:
Haye, staggering around the ring like a Saturday night drunk, went down swinging, his right ankle strapped in the ninth then unstrapped, his aged body sagging under every assault…..Even when thrashed through the ropes at the end, Haye clambered back and was willing to continue…. It will not seem so to him as he contemplates the fading of his days, but this was Haye’s finest night.” On 3 June 2017 Haye and McGuigan both announced that they would no longer work together in going forward.
It was said that they had reached a mutual agreement and parted on good terms. Some rumours indicated that McGuigan had urged Haye to retire, which eventually caused the split. On 6 July, Haye announced that he had hired Cuban Ismael Salas as his new trainer. Silas, known for working with Jorge Linares, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Nonito Donaire, stated that he believed he could lead Haye to another world title reign.
Haye vs. Bellew II