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Bellew vs Haye 2: Tony Bellew must learn from David Haye's desperate downfall
Last Updated: 07/05/18 1:53pm
Tony Bellew has seen first-hand what happens when a once-brilliant career slips away, writes James Dielhenn. He must think carefully before taking more risks like David Haye did.
The worst emotion you can feel towards a boxer is pity. Worse than hatred or even ambivalence, pity is the one reaction that an elite prize-fighter must strive to avoid. Haye, to his credit, is not there yet because there was just enough bite and bravery in his back-to-back losses to Bellew.
Many top fighters are destined to leave the sport a shell of their former shelves, and unfortunately Haye will join the long list of men whose toughest battle turned out to be with themselves. It doesn't have to be that way for Bellew.
He could be one of the lucky escapees. It is rare that an opportunity presents itself for a fighter to bow out amid euphoria, and even rarer that they recognise their golden chance, but Bellew finds himself in that well-earned position.
Bellew is a proud man - humble to the point of comedy, at times - and won't want to experience the vicious unravelling of his career that he put Haye through.
The Indian summer that Bellew has enjoyed since 2016, when he became a world champion at Goodison Park where he cheers on Everton, will not go on forever but might have a glimmer of sunshine left.
Bellew can be the master of his own fate, choosing whether to fight on with his head rather than the heart which has often been his biggest weapon inside the boxing ring.
You could sense a tinge of sorrow in Bellew's words about Haye post-fight - he, like everybody else, took no pleasure in seeing the former world heavyweight champion forced into a position where he is being held hostage by his own reputation.
There are obvious differences to Bellew's and Haye's personalities which mean Saturday's winner was always the likelier to walk away on his own terms.
Haye has had a brilliant career - unifying the cruiserweight division, winning a heavyweight title and competing in plenty of memorable bouts. He is still bitter that he didn't unify the top division against Wladimir Klitschko and sometimes winces at the mention of that failure. Regardless, his popularity and achievements exceed what 99 percent of boxers are able to do.
Bellew, two years younger at 35, slid under the radar while a prime Haye was stealing the limelight. Bellew lost his second world title shot, as a light-heavyweight, when a debilitating weight cut rendered him unable to best Adonis Stevenson five years ago. Only at 33, and probably with his last chance, did Bellew win a world title. He is inherently less expectant of glory than Haye has been.
"It will take something absolutely ridiculous to make me do it again," Bellew said on Sunday. He should box on if the fire still burns, and the rewards are worthwhile. He should consider quitting if his only opponent is bloody-mindedness.
His technique, as he claimed pre-fight, lends itself to boxing into his late 30s. Bellew never relied on the speed or reflexes that so cruelly deserted Haye when he needed them most. Bellew is better known for his toughness, which no longer needs to be proven against younger, fresher contenders.
The example of what may await Bellew was across the ring from him on Saturday, hobbling and wondering where the years had gone. He will not want his career to end like his great rival Haye's.