The rematch lived up to the hype as Tony Bellew sent David Haye crashing to a dramatic defeat which will surely spell the final curtain of an excellent career for the Bermondsey man.
There was the now normal party atmosphere at ringside at the packed out 02 Arena in London’s Docklands as Haye made his way to the ring looking slimmer, fitter, and more confident than he had for some time.
Tony Bellew, however, looked determined and focused as he entered the ring to his familiar Everton soundtrack, with both men getting a mixed reception.
At the first bell, there was respect and caution as Haye tentatively looked to land his Jab, with Bellew happy to look for counters on the back foot.
A similar pattern in the second when a more confident Haye warmed to his task looking to shake off the rust of only 14 competitive rounds in almost six years, however, he was made to miss with long lunging punches.
Both men smiled and waved at each other as the expectation grew and both fighters started to engage. Haye noticeably looked to plant his feet to show the Hayemaker power that had finished 26 of his 28 opponents inside the scheduled distance.
Bellew was happy to oblige however and landed a stunning right to send Haye’s legs to jelly and send him crashing to the canvas in shock and disbelief, he rose unsteadily to be met by an aggressive charge from the Liverpool man, now in inspired mode, who tore into Haye sending him to the canvas once more.
Haye rose but looked ready for the taking as the bell sounded adding to the drama and giving new trainer Ismael Salas a chance to do what he could in a desperate attempt to salvage Haye’s pride.
Bellew took his time in the fourth and looked to be blowing slightly as he waited his time for another big attack to open up, which he did in the fifth round, as Haye, looking desperate tried to unload with big hooks only to be caught with a bigger, quicker, accurate left hook to send Haye to the canvas once more.
The end was now staring him in the face as Bellew threw another barrage of punches, referee Howard Foster dived between the two to stop the fight. As a very emotional Tony Bellew accepted the applause from a very charged crowd.
Tony Bellew now looks at his future with plenty of highly lucrative options at heavyweight or cruiserweight if he decides to carry on which I imagine he will after a good solid performance like this.
Haye, however, needs to look long and hard at what’s next for the former two-weight champion and I think a career outside the ropes in a promoting capacity already looks mapped out, with the next generation primed and ready.