Aftermath: What Next for Bellew and Haye?
In the wake of Tony Bellew's fifth-round TKO of David Haye in Saturday night's heavyweight showdown, Martin Chesnutt, Anthony Cocks, Paul Zanon, Callum Rudge, Shaun Brown, James Oddy, Chris Williamson and Daniel Morley gave their thoughts on where each man goes from here...
BM: Is this the end for the Hayemaker? If so, what's his legacy?
MC: Haye surely must call it a day. He’s a charismatic guy, who carried a big punch, and was a very good fighter. Not many can say they were two division or unified champions, and once the dust settles he’ll always have the Jean-Marc Mormeck, Enzo Maccarinelli, and Nikolai Valuev memories.
AC: David Haye was an excellent cruiserweight with a shaky chin that made all of his fights exciting, but he didn’t stick around long enough at cruiserweight to establish much of a legacy. His victory over the very tough Frenchman Mormeck remains his career-best win in my opinion.
PZ: Whether it was the 14 months of inactivity that took its toll, the compilation of injuries, or the fact that Tony Bellew was simply too good - Haye should retire. He'll always be known as the fighter 'pre and post Klitschko'. Everything post Klitschko was beyond his best.
CR: It should be the end for Haye. It’s been well known inside the sport for a while that his body is in bits and it showed again last night. The Sky commentators were in the know and were constantly making reference to his feet. While you can tell Haye enjoys the spotlight, his body just can’t stand up to the rigours of elite level sport anymore. Haye’s legacy will be of a man who achieved a lot but inactivity and a fragile body meant he didn’t achieve as much as he could’ve. The nights against Mormeck, Maccarinelli and Valuev will be talked about for a long time though and he has a lot to be proud of.
SB: It has to be the end for David Haye. He looked every inch a shot fighter last night. Even the power doesn’t look like it once was. To be honest it looked like a man fighting for the wrong reasons, and that’s my fear. I can’t help but think he knew he was going to get a hiding but was happy to do so for the financial reward at the end of it. Haye reminded me of a cut and shut motor that shouldn’t be on the road, and he shouldn’t be in a boxing ring. His legacy is split in two and it’s up to you what you choose to remember the most. The box office cruiserweight whose fights you watched while on the edge of your seat or the heavyweight, who while he slayed a giant in Valuev, is remembered for a bad toe, fighting rubbish on a television channel called Dave and beating Audley Harrison! I’ll remember the former and I’ll often go back and watch his cruiserweight days.
JO: Seeing Haye fall apart physically, again, was a sad sight for those that remember the heights he reached. Strip away the ego, bravado, poor taste trash talk and reality TV shows, and Haye was a special talent. Power, athleticism and speed along with an underrated amount of grit created a thrilling fighter.
CW: Haye’s legacy is as an outstanding cruiserweight who travelled abroad to win the unified title and then embarked on a mostly entertaining run of heavyweight money-spinners. It should be remembered that when Haye beat Mormeck in Paris, British boxing was nowhere near as vibrant and well-funded as it is now and his achievements provided a shot in the arm for the sport. Haye also spearheaded what has become an important shift in the balance of power away from promoters and towards fighters, encouraging his peers to take control of their careers. Sadly, Haye latterly became everything the swashbuckling cruiserweight risk-taker would have hated - a part-time sort of ‘celebrity boxer’. However, even when encased in what became a very restricted version of his fighting frame, he showed glimpses of the real and courageous fighter which undoubtedly lies deep in his soul.
DM: It's time for Haye to hang the gloves up. His body just can't cope with the punishment this sport puts on it. I'll remember a prime David Haye, whose speed, reflexes and genuine knockout power were seriously frightening. Luckily he has his feet in other ventures now, including promoting which shall keep him busy and his mind occupied.
BM: What do you want to see Tony Bellew do next?
MC: Regardless of any cash on the table, I don’t think Bellew should test any of the super heavyweights. However, he’s looking good at 35, and his name is on the marquee, so why not try to get the Usyk vs Gassiev winner? A couple of legacy fights then leave on his own terms before somebody turns the lights out.
AC: The best move for Bellew is a return to cruiserweight to challenge the winner of the WBSS final.
PZ: I think Bellew could have one big last fight at heavyweight, but not against the likes of Joshua or Wilder. Moving down to cruiser now could be risky. The likes of Gassiev, Usyk and Briedis all provide dangerous tests ... but that's what Bellew loves! Danger, risk and the ability to prove everyone wrong!
CR: Retire. It’s hard to see many fights out there that will make Bellew drag himself through another training camp, he only wants massive PPV fights now and those aren’t easy to make. Post-fight he mentioned Andre Ward but the Oakland native is much smaller and seems happily retired. Fights with Usyk or Gassiev would wet the appetite of boxing fans but don’t guarantee the cross over appeal that Bellew wants at this stage of his career. I can see Bellew having another year out before quietly retiring.
SB: I would like to see Tony Bellew retire. He’s done it all. Domestic titles, a world title, rivalries and made plenty of coin via pay per view. To many he has over achieved but the size of his heart is remarkable and his boxing brain is severely underrated. He looks like he’s getting better and Dave Coldwell has brought out the very best in him. But this would be the perfect time to walk off into the sunset having proved so many people wrong time and time again.
JO: I was surprised the talk turned to 'who next' after the fight rather than 'what's next'. I can't see Ward, Gassiev or Usyk providing the type of box office attraction needed to give Bellew the pay day he wants, or deserves. But Bellew has made a career of surprising us...
CW: I’d like to see Bellew retire now while on a high. He’s achieved far more than he ever expected and is financially secure. If there was a relatively weak and/or smaller belt-holder reigning at heavyweight then a Jones Jr vs Ruiz type challenge may have made sense, but Joshua outpointing Joseph Parker likely ended that discussion. Ride off into the sunset Tony, you’ve earned it.
DM: I think Bellew will fight again. His name is one of the hottest on the British scene right now, since compiling a good winning streak after his loss to Adonis Stevenson. Bellew is a man fueled by pride and although he has achieved the highest honours in the sport, winning the WBC world title in style, I think the fact that three of his four biggest wins have came against injured fighters (Cleverly and Haye x2) may still give the Evertonian the urge to prove himself against the primed big names (more edging toward the cruiserweights than heavyweights).