Bomber well capable of pulling off stunning upset
Haye needs early stoppage
Sky Box Office
10.40pm approx, Saturday
Many experts seem to agree with bookies that David Haye should knock out Tony Bellew when they clash in their highly-anticipated heavyweight showdown at the O2 in London.
Some layers are as short as 1-7 about a Haye victory, but backing him at such short odds would represent a massive leap of faith as he has been virtually inactive for four and a half years and Bellew is the fighter with the solid form. Hills reported this week that 71 per cent of bets taken had been on the outsider.
Those who thinks Haye will destroy Bellew are supposing that Haye will be at, or at least close to, his prime, but there is absolutely no evidence that will be the case - all we have is his word and that of his trainer Shane McGuigan.
With the exception of two meaningless wins over very limited opponents in 2016, Haye has been virtually retired since the summer of 2012 when he beat Dereck Chisora.
Following that victory Haye was twice scheduled to face Tyson Fury but both times he had to pull out due to injuries, and after the second time he required shoulder surgery and was told by doctors he should never fight again.
Haye claims that his shoulder is no longer an issue and he is punching harder and faster than ever before. He may be telling the truth, but we simply do not know.
Ring-rust and stamina could be a problem due to his lack of activity, and injuries may have taken their toll. He will no doubt try to get the early knockout, but if this doesn’t happen Bellew - whose conditioning is proven - could be in a great position.
There is also another, more controversial, allegation that can be put to Haye - that his standing as a world-class heavyweight is a myth.
Suggesting that to his fans is likely to cause uproar but, like his performance in the celebrity jungle, Haye’s heavyweight boxing career is more memorable for hype than substance.
His best win since moving up from cruiserweight in 2008 probably came against Chisora, who has never been considered one of the best heavyweights in the world, and Del Boy had lost three of his previous four contests when they met.
Working backwards through Haye’s other heavyweight fights, he lost a wide decision to Wladimir Klitschko in which he blamed his disappointing performance on a bad toe.
His contest against Audley Harrison was one of the worst title fights in history, while John Ruiz was a veteran looking for a final pay-day before hanging up his gloves.
Lumbering giant Nicolay Valuev was an absolute circus act, and Monte Barrett was already washed up and won only one of his next seven after facing Haye.
Of course, whatever you say about those opponents they were all heavyweights, and WBC cruiserweight champion Bellew faces a clear disadvantage as he is making his debut at the weight and his punch resistance in the division is unknown.
Bellew’s biggest advantage is his recent activity. Since Haye fought Chisora in July 2012 Bomber has had 13 contests, including three world title fights and one European.
He has won nine straight, and last year the die-hard Evertonian achieved his dream of winning a world title at Goodison Park - defying the odds to beat Ilunga Makubu in three crazy rounds.
Bellew’s biggest asset may be his determination, but his biggest weakness is probably his defence, and this could be his downfall against a slugger such as Haye.
He gets hit far too easily, and was floored heavily in the first round against Makubu before getting back to his feet and brutally finishing off his opponent two rounds later.
If he starts as badly against Haye it will be a short night, and that is likely to dictate Bellew’s gameplan.
Haye will come out all-guns blazing looking for the early stoppage and Bellew’s best tactic is to try to weather the early storm and drag him into the later rounds, when the favourite’s questionable gas tank could start to run low.
Bellew is a better boxer than many give him credit for, and the longer the fight goes on the better his chances of pulling off the upset as he is one of the fittest and most dedicated boxers in the sport.
A prime Haye would likely wipe the floor with Bellew and he may well steamroller his way to success in a few rounds. But Bomber is well capable of beating Haye if he shows any vulnerability, and with so much inactivity over the last few years he is hard to trust.
Fortunately the disparity in the betting gives punters some great options.
With Haye such a short-priced favourite backing him to win makes no appeal, but going under 5.5 total rounds will cover the possibility of either man winning early, and while the price on a Bellew pulling off a shock victory has been cut in the last few days, the odds still look too big.
1pt 9-2 Coral
Under 5.5 total rounds
1pt 8-11 general