David Haye says that he went into his first fight with Tony Bellew with the wrong mindset, and that he’s going into their May 5 rematch thinking completely differently.
Writing for the Mirror, the 37-year-old former cruiserweight and heavyweight titleholder says that he had no fear of Bellew’s power the first time, and this time will give Bellew’s power respect (even if Bellew didn’t hurt him the first fight):
“In my mind, I was just going to go in there and knock Tony out. It sounds simple and primitive but that’s what it was, I had no fear of his power. Normally when I go into a fight I make sure I don’t get hit but I thought it didn’t matter for this one. I thought that even if he hit me, it would make no difference; I thought there was no way I could lose.
“He hit me on the button with some of his best shots but I didn’t feel them. I could go into this fight with the same mentality but I’m not going to. Once you step in the ring with a fighter you naturally realise a level of respect for that person, regardless of whether you like them or not.
“On May 5, I’m going to go into it believing he can hurt me; having that awareness wakes you up, makes you sharper and heightens your senses.”
Haye (28-3, 26 KO) is one of boxing’s best talkers and best salesmen, and his rematch with Bellew (29-2-1, 19 KO) will surely do good business, as the first bout did. No matter how many times fight fans say they’re done with Haye for whatever reason, they seem to come back to him. Whether you see him as a hero or a clown, he is one of the great personalities of his era.
That said, even if Bellew didn’t hurt Haye (which I have a hard time believing), it’s probably better to think your opponent can do damage than believing you can waltz through anything they throw. So Haye is, as usual, saying the right things. Whether that results in a win on May 5 is up in the air.