This rematch, like the first fight between these two heavyweights last March, will probably come down to whether David Haye’s body can hold up for 12 rounds.
Tony Bellew’s 11th-round TKO win will always have an asterisk next to it, as Haye fought most of the fight on one leg after his Achilles tendon ruptured in the sixth round.
Saturday night, then, is a chance for Bellew to validate that win, and for Haye to prove he can still fight at the top level at the age of 37.
Haye blew the first round of the first fight. He came out swinging wildly, trying to take Bellew out as soon as possible, and was made to look silly.
He calmed down after that, though, and was ahead on the judges’ cards before his Achilles snapped.
Even when he couldn’t move around the ring and had no balance, Haye took shot after shot on the chin and still stayed on his feet. It was exhaustion that ended the fight – not Bellew’s power.
The Liverpudlian was still being caught with sweeping hooks even when his opponent was a sitting duck, and he seemed to tire due to the extra weight gained from his move to heavyweight.
If Haye’s body holds up on Saturday night – and it’s admittedly a big if – he should win.
At their best, these fighters were at least one level apart, and the former heavyweight champion of the world is too big, too powerful and too skilful for Bellew if he’s anywhere close to his peak.
Before the first bout between this pair, the Londoner had only lost to Wladimir Klitschko as a heavyweight, and his 26 knockouts from 31 fights prove he can stop anyone with one punch (providing he’s fighting on two legs).
Bellew’s been floored several times in his career to fighters who don’t hit as hard as Haye, and a stoppage win in the middle rounds for the 37-year-old is the best bet.
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