With no belt on the line but a score to settle, Tony Bellew (30-2-1, 20 KOs) knocked out David Haye (28-4-0, 26 KOs) again to close the book on the sport’s latest Heavyweight rivalry, earning a stoppage victory in Round 5 at the O2 Arena in London.
Haye began the fight in a predatory stance. Revenge on his mind and a right hand cocked and loaded, Haye stalked Bellew, establishing control of the center of the ring in the opening frame. Well-placed one-twos from Haye forced Bellew into the ropes toward the end of the round and Haye capitalized the period with an overhand right that hit his man square.
The next round and a half devolved into a fencing match. But in the final minute of Round 3, some windmill punches sent Haye stumbling backwards across the ring where Bellew bounced his man off the ropes for the first knockdown of the fight. Bellew took advantage of his hurt opponent and cracked Haye again to the tune of the bell signaling the end of round which coincided with the start of referee Howard John Foster’s count.
The center of the ring belonged solely to Bellew throughout the fourth period. It was also his turn to pick up points by way of one-two combinations. Here Haye began dragging a lame leg around as he seemed to struggle to move laterally—fighting with one leg much like their first encounter.
In the fateful round, the two boxers continued to circle one another. Haye darted in with a reckless right hand that missed, tried following that up with a left hook, but was met with a curling left hand of Bellew’s own. The punch crashed into Haye’s chin, sending him to the canvas awkwardly as his left leg remained slack and motionless.
Haye’s eyes were glassy as he took a nine-count from his knees. He barely managed to get back up but called Bellew over for more action. Haye only retreated to the neutral corner and more one-two combos forced referee Foster to call an end to the bout.
Bellew’s finishing blows were not anything murderous but after three genuine knockdowns, Haye did himself no favors flailing around as his man’s punches came near.
Haye has earned just three victories, the most notable which being Dereck Chisora, since Wladimir Klitschko turned him away for Heavyweight gold in 2011. Retirement seems imminent for the former lineal Cruiserweight king. Forced to deal with another bum leg, Haye received treatment for his Achilles before last fighting Bellew and has undergone two shoulder operations since 2012.
At 35, Bellew has once again proven that in this sport knockout power is the last to go. The Liverpool native has now earned back-to-back wins at Heavyweight after first competing for a Light Heavyweight championship in 2013.
Bellew has made a habit out of using his knockout prowess to overcome serious odds—Haye was as high as a 6/1 favorite. Few expected the “Bomber” to crush the swarming Ilunga Makabu for the WBC Cruiserweight title either.
So as Bellew closes in on the Top 5 of the WBC Heavyweight rankings, potential opponents—despite their pedigree—should be mindful of the Englishman’s right hand.
Photo credit: Matchroom Boxing