On March 4 earlier this year, the O2 in London had the attention of the nation as we saw the climax of an intensely built rivalry between two British stars, David Haye (28-3) and Tony Bellew (29-2-1). After a build-up littered with aggression and despise from both sides, Matchroom revelled in a pay-per-view bout that grabbed the attention of hardcore and casual fans alike.
Despite being a miss-match in many fans’ eyes, as well as pre-fight odds peaking at 4/1 for a Bellew win, the fight delivered unforgettable images and lasting memories as an injured Haye was stopped in the 11th round by a pumped up and focused Bellew. Despite the injury leaving many fans with unanswered questions about the result of the fight, Bellew negated a lot of Haye’s offence in the opening rounds of the fight, leading to the opinion that these two were closer matched than expected.
One final payday?
With both men coming to the end of their careers, options were limited for alternate fights with Bellew admitting he is looking to make the biggest amount of money possible in his remaining few bouts. Talk of fights with Andre Ward, Hughie Fury and Joseph Parker were quickly quashed as Bellew and Matchroom targeted the biggest pay-day of them all, a rematch with the “Hayemaker.”
Venue logistics have proved the biggest sticking point in this rematch being finalised with Saturday 16th December already being booked at London’s O2 by a Pete Tong music gig. This has prompted Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn to attempt to launch his new concept of Sunday night boxing, which was last seen when Bellew snatched Ilunga Makabu’s WBC cruiserweight title away from him at Goodison Park last May; albeit on a Sunday preceding a Bank Holiday Monday.
With speculation arising after March 4 if we would ever see Haye fight again, he made it clear to WorldBoxingNews that he always planned to return this winter:
“The achilles healed nicely. I’m hopping on one leg, I’m running, I’m in a good physical state. I’ll be fighting before the end of the year. That’s my plan, it has been since the operation and I’ll be fighting before the end of the year and things are shaping up nicely for December.”
Old beef? Or new respect?
With heated press conferences and punches thrown in head-to-heads, it’ll be interesting to see how both fighters conduct themselves coming into this rematch. The despise for one another was clear from the offset in the run-up to March 4, but now after sharing a ring and declaring their ‘respect’ for each other, many fans will be left questioning the legitimacy of this hatred if we go through the same charade again.
This fight will be billed along the lines of ‘repeat or revenge’, and after a more competitive fight than we all expected – even before Haye’s injury – the boxing should do the talking this time around rather than the constant trash-talking.
Eddie Hearn is looking to make one final big payday out of "The Bomber"
Win or retire
David Haye will be 37-years-old when the first bell comes around, and despite being only two years older than the then 35-year-old Tony Bellew, it's likely that the loser of this rematch won't be making a return to the squared circle. With Haye's earlier career plan to be retired by the age of 30, it's remarkable that the "Hayemaker" has continued to find the desire to compete at the highest level, with his Hayemaker Promotions company providing a new business interest once he's hung up his gloves for good.
Bellew is in a similar position, and after vacating his WBC cruiserweight title to chase the big-money fights, "The Bomber" is in a position where everything that comes his way now is a career bonus.
The first meeting in March gripped the UK boxing scene for months and it's likely the rematch will do the same. Love it or hate it, you'll watch it!
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Check out the reaction of both fighters after their meeting on March 4.
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