David Haye v Tony Bellew – Hayemaker ready to play the long game

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FIGHT fan Ross Francis (@ross11ross) shares his betting thoughts on Saturday's re-match between David Haye and Tony Bellew.

David Haye v Tony Bellew | Saturday 5th May 2018, 21:30 | Sky Box Office

Saturday night sees former unified cruiserweight and WBA heavyweight champion David Haye (28-3-0) re-match with former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew (29-2-1).

With the backdrop of British heavyweight boxing being on a high, an alleged $50M offer from Deontay Wilder to fight Anthony Joshua; Dillian Whyte’s progression through the rankings and a raft of new up-and-coming names like Daniel Dubois & Joe Joyce, this re-match feels like a strange fit.

The first bout was billed by many as a mismatch, coming about through apparently nothing more than Bellew’s publicly aired offense to Haye’s comeback. However, through a series of events resulting in a compelling build-up, fight and victory for the underdog, on Saturday we get to witness whether there will be a ‘repeat or revenge’.

Realistically, this fight could have been billed as Last Chance Saloon v Last Fight Anyway as both near the end of their careers.

In the first fight, Haye’s battle-torn body gave way, with a ruptured Achilles during the sixth round leaving Haye to fight on one leg for a further five rounds before his team threw the towel in. This must surely now be his last chance to prove he is relevant in this buoyant heavyweight division.

Bellew, prior to that first fight, had already achieved his pinnacle in winning the WBC cruiserweight championship at the home of his beloved Everton FC, so questions over his motivation need to be asked. Super-fights touted with the likes of Andre Ward or Tyson Fury seem foolish and are mentioned in the same breath as retirement.

First fight clues

That said, the first fight TKO victory for Bellew has given him huge confidence coming into the rematch. His prediction that Haye’s body would not hold up played out although that was not due to any work Bellew asserted on his opponent.

Some feel that this confidence will give Bellew the edge and this has been reflected in the odds where both fighters are much more evenly priced than their first encounter (Haye 4/9 with Ladbrokes, Bellew 9/4 with Betfair).

In any re-match, you understandably look to the first fight for any insight but due to the nature of Haye’s injury, it is difficult to understand much from his side. What we do know is he can withstand the best Bellew has to throw. Do we know that Bellew can withstand the best Haye has? I’m not so sure.

Haye to take a clamer approach

By his own admission, Haye was swinging wildly from the first bell, his timing was off and he was loading up with every punch. There is a school of thought he and his camp knew the Achilles injury was likely to flare up and his best chance of winning was to knock Bellew out early.

Fast-forward to Saturday and the suggestion has been to take Bellew into the later rounds, “I don’t believe the fight will go early. I want to see if this heart his camp keep talking about is still there rounds seven, eight and on” Haye stated this week, something echoed by new (legendary) trainer Ismael Salas.

If Haye’s rebuilt, stitched together and rehabbed body can hold up, the fact is he is still the fighter in the ring with the genuine pedigree and the one with genuine heavyweight knockout power. The 26 KOs on his record (even with the last credible one being Dereck Chisora nearly four years ago) are still a huge factor against a cruiserweight who, at that weight, has been knocked down multiple times (Ajisafe, McKenzie, Makabu) and stopped (Stevenson).

The betting angles

Where Haye was emotional in the build-up first time round, biting to Bellew’s jibes, throwing a punch during a press conference, roles have now reversed. Bellew is seemingly the more emotional of the two this time round and again, I feel this will play a factor.

The leaner Haye, using his movement and skill against a durable Bellew, who was not reckless in the early stages of the first fight, leads towards this fight going past six rounds. If you feel the fight will go the distance, prices of 11/5 (Paddy Power) are available.

I don’t think the final bell will ring and find the prices available for either fighter to win in rounds 7-12 at 15/8 (Skybet) hold appeal. As the fight progresses, Haye knows he will be able to take more chances, aware he can take Bellew’s best punches, and I think the leaner Haye will be more precise and measured to find openings and can bring about the stoppage.

Therefore, Haye at 10/3 (Skybet) to win in rounds 7-12 and Bellew to be knocked down 8/13 (Betway) are favoured.

As per the first bout (please Achilles don’t scupper me again), I cannot see a result where Haye is not victorious. He says his “soul is on the line” and he “cannot allow his career to end on back-to-back defeats to Tony Bellew”.

Compare this with Bellew proclaiming it “doesn’t matter what happens in the fight as he’s already won”, and I know which mentality I favour.

Best Bets

David Haye v Tony Bellew – David Haye to win in rounds 7-12 (10/3 SkyBet)

David Haye v Tony Bellew – Tony Bellew to be knocked down (8/13 Betway)

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