Bellew vs Haye 2: Tony Bellew and David Haye get physical at final press conference
By James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 03/05/18 3:47pm
Tony Bellew shoved David Haye as tensions boiled over at their final press conference.
The rivals had engaged in a spiteful verbal back-and-forth in London on Thursday before security separated them when a routine face-off became physical.
A bizarre appearance by James Buckley, who plays Jay in The Inbetweeners, was a funny interlude after Bellew had previously caused a stir by likening Haye's representative Adam Morallee to Will from the comedy show.
But Bellew, who beat Haye in their first fight last year, was at his most serious when he dismissed his opponent's plan to win via a late stoppage.
"David has never shown that he is a 12-round fighter who gets stronger in his whole life," Bellew said. "Boxing is a sport where fighters do not get better as they get older. It has never happened.
"George Foreman? Bernard Hopkins? No. It always ends badly."
Haye, aged 37, interrupted: "You seemed to get better as you got older? How old were you when you won a world title? You failed up to that point."
Bellew, who was 33 when he won a world cruiserweight title in 2016, replied: "I moved weights. That's what happened. Are you the same man who faced Jean-Marc Mormeck? I'm not the same man who faced Ilunga Makabu. I got cleverer as I got older, not better.
"Your acting lessons are not working. Work on your craft. Your fake laugh is the worst I've ever heard. No wonder you can't get a role in [anything]. You said you'd retire at 30, but you're back in the ring.
"You've been undisputed cruiserweight champion, world heavyweight champion, in mega blockbusters, but now you're answering to a little, fat Scouser. And you're telling me that this is your peak?"
Bellew, earlier this week, had insisted that his brief reconciliation with Haye after their first fight was not sincere and would not be repeated.
"I showed respect, purely for what he did for me. I gave that back by doing this fight," Bellew said.
"I didn't need to give David a rematch. He was so smarmy, arrogant and cocky that he didn't put a rematch clause in the contract. No one does that, at this level. Anything past domestic level, you put a rematch clause in.
"He was so egotistical that he thought he just had to turn up. He made a grave mistake because now he's dancing to a different tune and it's not Luther Vandross. You'll listen to Z-Cars as I walk to the ring, and you'll have to wait.
"For the first time in your whole life, it's all on the line. I've done this five or six times - except, I didn't put "Revenge" on my caps, jumpers to make you look bigger, or have Will McKenzie on my team."
Voices were raised as Bellew and Haye's bickering became more intense, and they stared into each other's eyes from their seats.
"This time won't be controversial, it will be clinical," Haye said. "The plan is to push it after round seven. If he's as tough and durable as they say, we've got a cracking fight. But I'm not sure.
"The shots that were missing will be landing. The first time they didn't land with crispness, it was clubbing, and that's not my style. This time it will be slick - I will give the performance that people expected the first time.
"The first six rounds are about chopping him up and breaking him down. I'm ready for 12 hard rounds.
"They say you're only as good as your last fight. My last was an 11-round stoppage loss, that doesn't sit right. That's the worst finish to a career, and it would put a smudge over my resume. It would feel like I've undone all the great nights I've had, over the years. Everything is on the line - my reputation and my soul."
Bellew responded: "There will be no rematch, this time. We close the curtain on you, David."
They concluded by standing for a face-off when Bellew shoved Haye, and security swiftly intervened. They go head to head again on Friday at the weigh-in.