David Haye

Defeat to Tony Bellew Should be the End of the Line for David Haye

“He became an old man in the ring … I don’t want to see David Haye fight again. Nobody in the David Haye business should ever want to see him fight.”

Respected boxing pundit Steve Bunce’s words to the BBC were a sensible and accurate assessment after David Haye was stopped in the fifth round of his rematch with Tony Bellew on Saturday.

Haye was a shadow of the once great fighter who struck fear into his opponents with blurring speed and awesome power.

Age and injuries have taken their toll and at the O2 on Saturday, realisation hit home that he no longer has the tools to operate at the top level. And it could be argued that he should no longer be operating at any level.

Haye spoke confidently ahead of the rematch about taking the fight long, outworking and outlasting his opponent. For a man who had fought only a handful of rounds in the past six years, those words seemed a little strange.

That plan went out of the window in round three as Haye shifted from fighting up close to stepping out and going for big shots. It did not help his cause and he was twice sent to the canvas in the third round.

Haye became reckless and desperate in a bid to land the big shot to topple his opponent, but he could not lay a glove on Bellew and the Liverpudlian brought an end to the fight when knocking Haye down in the fifth.

While Haye’s career, at the top level at least, is over, Bellew is on the rise. He too is into the autumn of his career at 35, but he brings a different skillset to the ring. Bellew is not about crushing power, more tactical boxing, and he has his sights trained on a couple of big fights if they can be made.

“You lot will laugh but I will beat Andre Ward,” Bellew said, per the BBC. “I have a different set of skills to what he has seen before.

“I have all the respect in the world for him but he has never faced a fighter who can match him up close, fighting on the inside.”

Andre Ward retired in September with a perfect 32-0 record, but Bellew is hopeful of luring him back into the ring. If not, he has his sights on another massive all-British fight.

“I’d love Tyson Fury. I’d love to knock him out,” Bellew said. “Timing is everything in this sport. I’m not saying I would have beaten him in Dusseldorf when he beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.

“Fury isn’t a big puncher like Anthony Joshua or Haye. He’s big, elusive and fast for a heavyweight. It’s a fight I like.”

Fury has not fought since beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, but returns to the ring in June.