Haye – Bellew | Mismatch or Tear Up
By: Courtney Riley
The truth be told, we all love a good fight. That is the reason why boxing is thriving in the UK and the world over. We – the fans – love it, and are prepared to fork out good money to watch it. That is primarily why fights are made and the reason why prize-fighters engage in these pugilistic wars for our entertainment. Haye vs Bellew will be no different. This fight has ignited the excitement of boxing fans across the UK (and around the wider globe). Every fight fan has something to say about it. History, however, has taught us that the ‘big fights’ very rarely live up to their pre-fight hype, but when they do, fans are left with something unforgettable – a certified classic.
Will this fight prove to be a disappointing mismatch or a classic tear up? How do both fighters match up to each other?
Both fighters measure up to a height of 6’3, though Haye will have a 4-inch reach advantage. Bellew has been operating at Light Heavyweight (175lbs) for the vast majority of his career before he moved up to Cruiserweight (200lbs) back in March, 2014. It is at that weight where he truly stepped into his own to become a world champion, and some would say into his prime. On the other hand, Haye is perhaps the best cruiserweight that this country has ever produced. He punctuated that assertion when he knocked out Enzo Maccarinelli back in ’08 to become the unified WBC, WBA, WBO, and Ring Magazine cruiserweight world champ. Some would say that was during David’s prime – almost a decade ago. David has been operating at Heavyweight since 2008 and is more accustomed to fighting bigger men than Bellew. For this fight, Haye weighed in at a muscular 236lbs as opposed to Bellew’s lighter yet more podgy-looking 215lbs.
Edge: Haye – even though both men have similar heights and fairly similar frames, their dynamics are worlds apart. Haye is much more muscular and chiselled compared to his opponent. Bellew’s team should have stipulated a cap on Haye’s weight instead of allowing him to have all the advantages in that department.
Bellew calls himself the ‘Bomber’. It is a fitting moniker for a man who can truly bang; a man who holds bombs in both fists, and that’s Bellew. He stopped Mukabu to win his world title and he bombed out Flores in his first title defence. Even though he is looking to be a lot more powerful since his step up to cruiserweight, will he be able to carry that power up to heavyweight? Haye is a banger. No doubts. No debate. He made the towering 7-foot-2 – 320-pound giant Nikolay Valuev lean to one side like the monument in Pisa from a left hook in their heavyweight WBA world title clash. To boast further, he has also stopped 26 of his 28 victims. Everything indicates that Haye packs a serious punch.
Edge: Haye – Bellew has had 13 stoppages in his 20 wins at light-heavyweight and it seems that he is punching harder since his move up to cruiserweight. Haye, however, has been consistently crunching on his opponents like breakfast cereal since he turned professional back in 2002.
Haye was rapid at cruiserweight – foot and hand-speed, both. His speed was one of his key attributes that enabled him to dominate the division. That dominance, however, was near enough a decade ago. He is still very quick as a heavyweight but is he as fast as he was as a cruiser? Bellew is a cruiserweight and is accustomed to sharing the ring with faster men than those who operate at heavyweight. He is not a fast cruiserweight by any stretch but he is faster than most heavies.
Edge: Haye (slightly) – he is explosive and is perhaps the fastest elite-level heavyweight on the planet. Bellew himself has stated that he believes that Haye is the fastest single puncher at heavyweight in the world.
Neither fighter is a technical operator in the classical sense. Bellew has a tendency to fight with his chin up, while looping in with his shots. In boxing 101, that’s a total ‘no no’. He’s been proved to be hittable in the past and this the kind of fight where he can’t afford to be getting tagged by the heavy-handed Haye. Haye’s technique is all wrong, but it grants him his unique style. He fights with his hands low in a fairly wide stance. He depends more on his athleticism than his technique in a way that is slightly reminiscent of the legendary Roy Jones Jr. of years gone by.
Edge: Haye – even though Haye is not technically any better than Bellew in terms of boxing ability. His athleticism (reflexes, agility and speed) will compensate for the areas where he is found lacking.
Haye can be hurt. He has been stopped at cruiserweight in the past. He has also been hurt on several occasions at that weight. He is an elusive fighter when he is fully in his stride however, so Bellew will have a tough task trying to hurt what he can’t see. Bellew has been stopped, bruised and hurt at cruiserweight as well. But none of his opponents were quite as heavy-handed as Haye. The prospects are not very appealing for Tony in this area.
Bellew is a man on-form. He is still flying high from his world title triumph over Makabu and from his emphatic stoppage victory over BJ Flores. He has been fighting regularly against good competition for the past 5 years which will stand him in good stead. On the flip-side, Haye has had only one competitive fight in the last five years – his stoppage victory over Derick Chisora back in 2012.
Edge: Even – there are too many unknowns about how much Haye will have left in the tank at 36 years old. There are questions about his desire and his motivation but none of those can be quantified. Bellew is as stubborn as a bull and will fight hard as long as he is physically able. That makes for a good fight for however long it will last.
Emphatic early stoppage for Haye in what will prove to be an entertaining mismatch.