No one in the fight business ever lost money overestimating the public’s appetite for trash talk. So on Wednesday David Haye got to work drumming up interest in his rematch with Tony Bellew on 17 December at the O2 Arena in south-east London.
By their own scabrous standards, the two were reasonably restrained. Haye managed to get through the press conference in London without describing Bellew’s fans as “fucking retards” or promising to “smash his fucking head in” like he did before he lost to Bellew in March. But then, as Haye says “we’ve shared the ring together, I’ve dished out my licks, I’ve received his, and when you do that with somebody, whatever respect wasn’t there prior to the fight is there now”.
Instead, Haye launched into an extended riff in which he questioned Bellew’s motivation then compared him to a bank robber. “Going into the first fight, Tony Bellew’s motivations were clear and obvious to see. He wanted to secure his family,” he said.
Since Haye co-promoted the fight, he knew exactly how much Bellew had been paid and was able to welcome him to “the very small club of British boxers who really don’t have to box, who can sit on the beach for the rest of their lives”. Haye’s question now is “why go back into the lion’s den and do it again?”
He added: “When you rob a bank once and your family is secure, do you go back to the same bank again just to get a little more money? Once you rob a bank once, they can introduce security cameras, they get extra security guards, they move the safe. If you’re that confident you can rob a bank twice, good luck to you.”
Bellew rolled his eyes once or twice and replied: “I didn’t rob no bank. I got in the ring, I punched you senseless and then I went home, kissed my kids, and had a great night. And I’m going to do the same again.”
The Liverpudlian is grieving for his brother-in-law, Ashley Roberts, who died in August, and was not in the mood for playing games. “This is all nonsense to me,” he said. “What I’ve been through in the last month I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”
But since Haye had questioned him on it, he explained that his motivation was the same as it has always been. “I fight because I enjoy fighting. I admit I’ve got a screw loose. But I enjoy having a fight. Fight night? I love it. I love walking in the ring. I love punching you in the face. I love getting punched in the face. I don’t know why.”
Haye struggled through the second half of their 11-round fight in March because he blew an achilles tendon, which, Bellew’s trainer Dave Coldwell explained, is one of the reasons why they wanted a rematch. “This fight had to happen because there’s so many people who think that we fluked it and got lucky.”
It is true too that for two guys in their mid-30s there were not many other places to turn, despite Haye’s fanciful talk about wanting to prove himself to be the best heavyweight in the world.
Bellew is convinced he would have won anyway. He says he had Haye’s measure then, and will do again in December, even though Haye has started working with a new trainer, the canny Ismael Salas from Cuba. “David’s got a problem with stamina, because of his style,” Bellew explained. “When he’s made to miss, when he’s made to pay, when he starts getting frustrated, things start to go wrong for him. There’s ways and there’s formulas of beating David. I know because I’ve studied him.” He said Haye will make the same mistakes all over again. Such as underestimating his opponent.
“I understand how you look at me and what you think, you think you’re just going to walk through me, because you’re so egotistical you cannot change, you will not change,” Bellew told Haye.
Maybe the bookmakers have underestimated him too. They have him down as the underdog. He does not much mind that. “In Liverpool David said ‘you gang of retards’ to my fellow scousers, ‘if you’re so confident bet all your money on Tony Bellew’. They did, mate. And they won a fortune, thank you very much.”
Tyson Fury to stay out of the ring
Tyson Fury appears to have announced his retirement again after revealing he will not apply for a new boxing licence.
Fury has not fought for nearly two years since ending Wladimir Klitschko’s world heavyweight title reign in Düsseldorf in November 2015.
Having twice postponed rematches with Klitschko last year, the 29-year-old lost his boxing licence last October when he admitted he was using cocaine and struggling with depression.
Fury had hoped to return to the ring earlier this year but that plan was scuppered when his National Anti-Doping Panel hearing was adjourned in May.
Not for the first time, the British boxer now seems to have announced he is quitting by claiming on Twitter that he will not apply to the British Boxing Board of Control for a licence.
He wrote: “After thinking long & hard about my return I will not be applying for license. After they way they have handled stuff. No thanks.”
Fury was at ringside last month when his cousin Hughie Fury came up short in his bid to take the WBO heavyweight title from champion Joseph Parker in Manchester.