'I love you Tony Bellew': Bellew vs Haye 2 presser
A composed David Haye made a surprise pronouncement at the London press conference today to promote his 5 May rematch against Tony Bellew. Paul Zanon was in attendance for Boxing Monthly...
The opening press conference for the first Haye vs Bellew fight was almost worthy of pay per view in its own right; verbals exchanged, threats made, promises laid down and punches landed... There was certainly no love lost between the British pair.
Today was the polar opposite. It’s not that I wanted a bar room brawl to break out, but at least a bit of heated conversation to get us back in the spirit of the last contest would have been nice, in advance of the intriguing rematch on 5 May 2018.
Haye though refused to play ball or rise to Bellew's bait, remaining resolutely calm throughout - so calm in fact that Bellew quipped: "I just hope you don't become a Buddhist before the fight."
Promoter Eddie Hearn kicked off proceedings by confidently backing his man in Bellew: “I know we’re going to win this fight," he announced. "You have two very different men at two very different stages of their career.
"It comes down to desire and heart and I’ve not really met someone with more desire and heart than Tony Bellew. When the going gets tough on May 5th, I feel like there’s only one winner. I just don’t know how much David Haye wants it.”
Bellew’s trainer, Dave Coldwell added: “You’re going to see a better fight. It’s going to be a more dangerous fight for both fighters.”
A very composed Haye was next to take the microphone. “I’ve got the heart. I’ve got the desire." he argued. "I think anybody who watched that last fight realises and knows that I could have potentially pulled out, like a lot of fighters would have done.
"I don’t get paid any extras if I keep on going – but I did. Why? Because I’m here to win. I leave it all on the line.”
Haye continued by adding, rhetorically, “Did he [Bellew] get under my skin the last time..." at which point, just as Haye was about to say ‘yes,’ Bellew jumped in with: “Absolutely!”
Haye then offered a justification for engaging in a such a heated war of words the first time round. “I needed that fuel, because on paper you had a heavyweight fighter and a cruiserweight. I didn’t see anything in his arsenal to give me problems.”
The tone Hearn set was not only continued by Bellew, but ramped up a few notches. It was obvious that Bellew wanted to engage Haye into a verbal sparring match - to lay the traps out for the former two-weight world champion, as he did ahead of their fight on 4 March last year.
But Haye didn’t budge. From the outset he was composed and at no point did he ever show that he might be on the verge of standing up and throwing a table [Chisora style] at the affable Liverpudlian.
At one point Bellew directly challenged Haye and said: “Am I not the crappest world champion ever this time? Now you’re starting with this humbled approach!”
Haye responded, with a smile on his face, “You humbled me Tony. You took my best and you dished out yours, and the towel came flying in because you were the better man.”
Bellew tried to rile Haye into an argument by attacking Haye’s promotional company, but Haye responded to Bellew’s comments with, “I’m not going to do it this time Tony. I’m not taking the bait, son!”
Bellew sounded doubtful about Haye’s new persona. “You’re saying you’re humbled and you’ve changed. You haven’t. You know you can’t stand the sight of me.”
To which Haye replied, to the amusement of the media in attendance, “I love you Tony Bellew!”
The tennis match of comments continued to a point which felt like a long deuce was being played out... Even a couple of the UK’s best veteran boxing scribes behind me said, “It’s getting boring now.”
Boring or not, the rematch will capture the boxing community’s interest yet again. Can a peak condition Haye appear on 5 May? If so, will he do what everybody expected him to do last time round? Or will Bellew repeat history, but more definitively this time?
Or how about option three: namely, the fight does not even happen due to one of the fighters pulling out with a cited injury?
What is certain though, is that the media jamboree which surrounds Bellew vs Haye 2 will attract attention right up until fight night. The same evening GGG and Canelo also have their rematch - I think it’s fair to say that boxing fans won't want to be too far away from a television that night...