Nothing gets the British fight fans going more than a big domestic dust up in the capital and the fires are burning bright on both sides for this all-british clash. Former champion David Haye has obliged the fight fans in agreeing to fight the vociferously outspoken WBC Cruiserweight Champion, Tony Bellew on March 4th at the O2 arena in London.
Uncompromising. Relentless. Strong willed. Just a few of the superlatives that spring to mind when talking about Tony Bellew. He may wear his heart on his sleeve but it is his never- say- die mentality that allows him to eke the maximum potential out of himself.
Many doubted that he would ever win a world title and he has proved them wrong. The proud Evertonian is riding on the crest of a wave after his demolition job of Ilunga Makubu at his beloved Goodison Park to capture the WBC Cruiserweight title. His confidence is sky high and there is no doubting; this is a peak Bellew. But has he now bitten off more than he can chew?
It’s no secret that ‘the bomber’ is after the real big money fights now and he has really engineered the opportunity to clash with Haye to cash in bigtime from a match-up that was never really apparent. He has done a great job in both hyping the fight up with his vitriolic rhetoric and riling Haye who genuinely dislikes him now.
Bellew has spent most of his career being underated. His technical ability as a boxer has always been overlooked partly down to his conditioning and lack of muscle mass. However looks can be decieving, the bomber can certainly bang hard enough to hurt David Haye and keep him honest.
However a sense of perspective must always be maintained when the hype train is rolling. With the Sky machine behind him he has suddenly gone from being underated to overated. You’d be forgiven for being lead to think he punches like Mike Tyson up at heavyweight. And that, he definitely does not.
Bellew didn’t knockout Nathan Cleverly when he fought him up at Cruiserweight and it has been proved Cleverly blew himself up to cruiserweight having now transitioned back to light heavy successfully. So what makes Bellew thinkk he can knockout Haye with one punch?
Despite Haye being universally recognised as a heavyweight these days, If you look at the dimensions of each fighter, they actually match up relatively evenly both standing around 6ft 3 inches tall. Haye has obviously added a lot more muscle mass to his frame but his natural frame is cruiserweight. However he does have the punch power of a heavyweight. The Hayemaker is the harder hitter here.
Bellew touched down against Ilunga Makabu and has been sent to the canvas against the big hitting Ovil Mckenzie earlier in his pro career. He has also been blasted out by Adonis Stevenson at light heavyweight. It looks very unlikely that he will be able to stand up to a clean connection from Haye. To his credit Bellew has always managed to get back up and turn the tide but Haye is a clinical finisher and he might not be let off the hook.
Haye will also be used to the feeling of being hit by much bigger heavyweights. Although his evasive skills have kept him from shipping clean shots he will still have taken shots to the arms and glancing blows. He took a few decent shots from the 250lbs rampaging Dereck Chisora in their fight a few years ago. If you get in the shower you get wet. If you get in the ring…
Much has been made of his ring inactivity but he stays in the gym and in good shape so trainer Shane Macguigan will be doing lot of boxing specific work with the pads and in sparring in order to try and bring his sharpness back. Of course you can never fully replicate a full fight against live opposition though and the opposition he has faced recently has been quite frankly woeful.
There’s been a lot of talk about this being a shootout. Contrary to general consesus I think Bellew wont be quite so reckless as he suggests. He will certainly be keen to gain Haye’s respect by landing something meaningful early on in the fight but I dont see him gunning straight into the centre of the ring all guns blazing from the first bell. He and his trainer Dave Coldwell will have more faith in his boxing ability than that.
I would expect him to be on the outside keeping his shots mostly long whilst trying to pick his moments to step in and exchange with heavy artillery. Just to rely on having a punchers chance is simply not going to cut it. Like I said earlier he can punch hard but he has never been a concussive one punch knockout artist and he is no Mike Tyson. He will be banking on his good stamina and will be looking to takethe bout into he later rounds before opening up.
People writing Bellew off as a no-hoper are being disrespectful. However, as long as Haye doesn’t underestimate Bellew and prepares well he should be able to deal with him in clinical fashion. I think he is too experienced and long in the tooth to make that mistake. It is the question marks that surround Haye’s underlying motivation and ring inactivity that have gone some way to levelling the fight in some poeple’s opinion. This might be similar to Golovkin versus Brook.