Revenge or Redemption? That’s the question plaguing fight fans at the O2 this Saturday as they prepare to watch Tony Bellew v David Haye 2. In what’s expected to be another heavyweight slugfest, both boxers will step onto the canvas to recommence their bitter rivalry.
Back in December, the hotly tipped rematch was cancelled after Haye required surgery on a freak bicep injury. A man seemingly piecing himself back together, the 37-year-old suffered a debilitating Achilles injury in round six of the first fight, which prompted further surgery to the often injury prone former heavyweight World Champion.
London born Haye is aware of hit fitness issues, and his determination was clear at the final press conference on Thursday: “For me that’s the worst finish to any career that I could have,” the former heavyweight champion said. “It would feel like I had undone all of the great nights I’ve had over the years.
“Everything is on the line here, my reputation, everything. My whole soul is on the line here.”
From physical challenges to emotional, Bellew has had a tough 2017. The Liverpudlian suffered a huge personal loss when his brother-in-law, Ashley Roberts, passed away in August.
Speaking to the BBC Bellew said: "I'd have ended up just going in, standing there and trading punches. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. When I think about the fight now it kind of gives me optimism, the thought of punching this clown in the face again.
Tensions rise between Bellew and Haye at the final weigh-in
"One thing is for certain, when I get in that ring I will not be found wanting. I will probably be at the most vicious point of my life because of the emotional turmoil I've been through."
"Boxing is violent chess. How good is your brain when you're put under pressure? This is the first time he is fighting for his career. I've done that four or five times.”
In stark contrast to the pre-fight build up to the first grudge match, the vicious controversy is absent. During the pre-fight build-up to March’s stoppage defeat, both boxers came to blows long before stepping foot into the ring, with graphic vulgar comments regarding injuries and mortality. Haye, having since been fined £25,000 by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC), agreed his hate-fuelled comments had brought boxing into disrepute.
Second-time around and both fighters are proving to be uncharacteristically calm. The final press conference began light heartened, with an unexpected appearance from The Inbetweeners star James Buckley, who played Jay on the show. He presented Haye’s manager Adam Morales with glasses and a briefcase, after a jibe from Bellew in Monday’s press conference comparing Morales to the character Will.
James Buckley interrupts the final press conference (Matchroom Boxing)
It’s a crossroads fight for both fighters. A win for Bellew means he could be enticed further by the heavyweight division, with Joshua Parker putting an offer on the table for the eventual winner. There is also the option to drop back down to cruiserweight where he will be an obvious opponent for a glamour tie against the winner of the World Boxing Super Series. A victory for Haye will see himself back in the mix for an elite heavyweight fight later in the year, with bookmakers already offering odds on a fight against Anthony Joshua