David Haye and Tony Bellew didn’t put on the Fight of the Year in a traditional sense, but today’s fight at the O2 Arena in London was one of the most compelling stories we’ve seen in some time.
Haye (28-3, 26 KO) was upset by Bellew (29-2-1, 19 KO), stopped in the 11th round of a dramatic fight that saw Haye suffer some sort of leg injury — speculated on the Sky broadcast to be an Achilles’ heel injury — and valiantly fight on despite being essentially on one leg, unable to do much more than lay against the ropes and look for big shots.
It was a dramatic story, one made for a movie, but there was no storybook comeback here. Bellew kept grinding away at Haye, finally dropping him for a second time in the 11th round. Amazingly, Haye climbed back through the ropes from the apron and beat the count, but his corner smartly threw in the towel with their fighter likely hopelessly behind on the cards at that stage.
For those fearing Haye making the legitimate injury an excuse, there was none of that in the post-fight interview, where the two shared the microphone after embracing warmly. Bellew relished in setting up his childrens’ future with a career-best payday and the promise of more big fights to come thanks to the victory, while Haye simply stated that Bellew “beat (him) fair and square,” calling him “the better fighter” on the night.
Haye was eventually asked about the injury, but simply said, “It is what it is,” and said that he gave Bellew his best, Bellew returned in kind, and Haye just couldn’t take it.
Both spoke of a potential rematch, with Bellew throwing out Liverpool’s Goodison Park as a potential host venue if it does happen.
What this fight lacked in skill or sustained action, it more than made up for in story and determination from both men. Bellew took some big shots early and made a jumpy Haye miss a lot, but Haye did settle down and seemed to have some rhythm before the leg injury, which changed the fight and perhaps the way many feel about Haye and his perceived lack of guts.
How did you feel about this one?