Haye vs Bellew: Risks and rewards for Tony Bellew taking on David Haye
By James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 20/02/17 11:55am
As news of Tony Bellew’s grudge match against David Haye filters through, Sky Sports ask what the world cruiserweight champion is risking by jumping up to heavyweight.
What is Bellew risking?
Emotion is the traditional downfall of a fighter. That's why mind-games so often feature as a pre-fight spectacle, in an attempt to distract the victim from his plan. Yet Bellew, the WBC cruiserweight champion, has recently appeared to be the exception of this rule - with his blood-pressure red-lining, he has excelled in his past two fights. But can this continue?
The raw passion streaking through Bellew's veins during his world title win at Goodison Park (which almost back-fired after a first-round knock-down, remember) plus a charged atmosphere in his first defence against BJ Flores has led the Liverpool brawler to take the biggest risk of his career against Haye. They say a gambler should quit while they're ahead.
Size matters when moving up to heavyweight, the land of the giants, and ironically Haye is a perfect example of that. A former world cruiserweight champion himself, Haye also won gold after stepping up yet looked tiny when Wladimir Klitschko jabbed and wrestled him five years ago. Now, Bellew is making a similar move - the numbers on the scale might appear similar, as they did when Kell Brook fought Gennady Golovkin, but that middleweight fight proves how natural strength and power can't be measured by numbers.
Haye has more than his fair share of venom in his fists, coming in both the one-punch knockout and the speedy combinations varieties. The Londoner has stopped significantly bigger men than Bellew, such as Dereck Chisora, Audley Harrison and John Ruiz, and his hand speed hadn't obviously diminished in the two outings since ending a three-and-a-half year hiatus.
Bellew can count on toughness being a leading attribute but we've seen him stopped before. Adonis Stevenson packs a punch, but as a light-heavyweight, is now a minimum of 32lbs below Bellew's next fight. The Liverpudlian could find out the difference in the harshest imaginable way.
What could Bellew gain?
It must be difficult chasing the ecstasy of living out a Hollywood fantasy. Recovering from the brink of disaster against Ilunga Makabu last May, Bellew became a world champion at the home of his beloved Everton football club, turning his starring role in the 'Creed' movie into reality. How do you top that?
Bellew deserves great credit for even attempting, at the age of 33 and with a world title already around his waist, to trump the type of moment that should define any boxing career. The glory of headlining an O2 Arena card as an underdog is worthy of Bellew being invited back to the film-set.
Such bravery has recently seen Amir Khan and Brook lauded for their attempts to dethrone the larger, more menacing Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Golovkin. This heavyweight fight is comparable, even though Haye resided at cruiserweight, the division Bellew now rules, eight years ago.
But can Bellew win? He believes that he's already out-gunned Haye inside a ring, albeit in a behind-closed-doors sparring session 11 years ago. Much has changed in that time-frame, and Bellew's claim can be disputed, but if it's true then he may have irrevocably sewn seeds of doubt into Haye's mind.
He will fancy his chances of outlasting Haye, who he has routinely labelled a "playboy", if the going gets tough. Bellew's assertion that Haye's comeback has "conned the public" stems from a belief that the Londoner no longer has the desire to meet adversity. With the lactic acid burning and with his nose bleeding, can Haye bite down on his mouth-piece anymore? Bellew can, he has repeatedly proven.
Of course, Bellew will remain as WBC cruiserweight champion regardless of the result. Future world title fights await but none are as glamorous as an opportunity to welcome Haye back into the unforgiving world of elite boxing.
Tony Bellew vs David Haye is on March 4 from The O2 Arena, live on Sky Sports Box Office.