Ok I’ll admit it, I thought David Haye would destroy Tony Bellew. That’s not to belittle Bellew, his underrated skills, grit and love of fighting hadn’t gone unnoticed but I thought Haye would be the bigger, faster, more athletic, harder hitting and superior boxer. It was hard to make a case for Bellew, assuming Haye came into the ring at his best.
I predicted that Haye would win in the 4th round by a spectacularly, savage stoppage and was even slightly worried about the possible damage that Bellew could suffer especially after hearing the chilling threats Haye was making before the fight. After all Bellew was an older fighter of the version that was dominated by a much smaller Adonis Stevenson. Why would I have reason to believe that Bellew would win?
However, watching the first 5 rounds, I realised Haye was far removed from the fighter he used to be. Much slower, wildly winging and missing his formerly trademark haymaker, absent of swift movement and stinging jab whilst his supposedly inferior opponent ducked and dodged with ease and skilfully countered with punches of his own. In the buildup he described himself as a new and improved David Haye; “Hayemaker 2.0”. Unfortunately Hayemaker 2.0 looked more of a pretender than a contender. Then in the 6th round disaster struck and injury like so often before hit Haye as hard as anything Bellew had thrown at him. He showed the courage, bravery and determination by fighting on in agony for 5 dramatic rounds but eventually the combination of a believing Bellew and unshakeable injury proved too much. Haye fell and the white towel was tossed into the ring by his trainer Shane McGuigan.
The white towel shouldn’t just represent the end of the fight but also to Haye’s respectable boxing career. His exciting and explosive style won him fights inside the ring and as he became the unified Cruiserweight champion before moving to Heavyweight and finding success there by winning the WBA World Title against Nikolai Valuev.
Haye however, often exhibited his greatest quality outside the ring which was his ability to talk his way into huge fights, capturing the publics imaginations and selling the fight to them as being unmissable. After grasping the WBA Heavyweight Title, he goaded the formidable Wladimir Klitschko into a unification title fight. He was brash and boastful about his talents whilst at times coming across crude and classless when addressing his illustrious opponent. The victory in this was that it enticed the public, he managed to engage with them so much so that even after his pre-fight promises were disappointingly broken in defeat against Klitschko, 5 years later he was able to return and reconnect with the paying public by announcing a seemingly low risk, maximum exposure grudge match against Tony Bellew in the hope it would lead to positioning himself into one final title challenge. Intelligently moving with the times using numerous forms of social media, he made himself accessible to the public, sharing training pictures and videos with fans that acted as evidence that he could still deliver thrilling entertainment. Using trending hashtags such as #Hayemaker, #HayeDay and #BellendBellew, he not only knew who his audience was, he knew how and where to talk to them.
His next path is clear, call it quits in the ring and become a full time promoter. Haye has the kind of profile that makes him well known to the ordinary person on the street, he has an engaging personality, he’s quick witted and controversially wicked. He is knowledgeable about the sport and the business of boxing. He has links with numerous television platforms having fought on Sky, Boxnation and Dave. I can envision him vociferously praising his fighters in such a way that would either gain fans or haters for his boxers but either way fans would want to PAY to watch which is the ultimate goal for a promoter. His recent deal with former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer gives him the support of working with someone who has been there and done it all. Selling fights is a tough game, not everyone is capable of doing it. History has shown not every boxer has felt capable of doing anything other than boxing once their career is over. There are many tales of boxers who fell on hard times and had no direction in their still young lives after retiring from fighting. They fought on too long, refusing to want to accept the end and in doing so damaging their health and shortening their lives.
Haye doesn’t have to take this cruel and painful direction. He can become successful again, earn big pay days and still be influential to the sport he so clearly loves. David Haye has had his last #HayeDay in the ring and needs to concentrate on a new and exciting chapter in his life. Perhaps the next phase as a promoter can be billed as #Hayemaker3.0 #TheFutureOfBoxing.