Tony Bellew defeats David Haye by technical knockout in dramatic clash at O2 Arena as former world heavyweight champion suffers achilles injury
One of the most courageous displays in the history of the British ring ended in Tony Bellew’s fairytale come true and the Hayemaker’s nightmare from hell.
To the Mersey Bomber, the glory no neutral gave him a chance of seizing.
To David Haye, the man who once blamed a sore little toe for losing a world heavyweight title fight, a badge of honour as big as his fighting heart on this unbelievable night in London’s Docklands.
Tony Bellew emerged victorious over former world heavyweight champion David Haye, taking the win in the 11th round
The victor holds his arms aloft and takes in the praise of the audience who were keen to applaud the all-action bout
The two fighters come together to congratulate each other in the aftermath of the high-octane headline fight
The two fighters come together to congratulate each other in the aftermath of the high-octane headline fight
Haye’s team threw in the towel late in the 11th round after realising their man could no longer continue
The latter rounds were a huge ask for Haye and the 36-year-old struggled to compose himself in the ring
Bellew looms over Haye after putting in a combination of shots to send the Hayemaker through the ropes in the 11th
The blockbuster crowd watch on with bated breath as Bellew’s knocks the injured Haye through the ropes
The referee rushes over to Haye as the former world heavyweight champion struggled to claw himself back into the ring
Photographers clamour around the felled Hayemaker as Bellew walks back to his corner
Haye, severely injured and void of all energy, was knocked out of the ring and his team soon opted to throw the towel
Bellew began to ramp up the pressure once his realised the injured Haye was desperately struggling
The former world champion had to heavily bandage up his damaged right ankle, believed to be an achilles problem
Haye’s team continued to work on the damaged ankle each time the former world champion returned to his corner
Once Haye collapsed with an agonising leg injury – perhaps a snapping of the achilles tendon for which he flew to Germany in the middle of fight week for emergency treatment – the night of pain he had promised Bellew became his agony. One which was ultimately beyond any man’s endurance.
After standing virtually motionless as he took salvo after salvo of massive blows, the white towel he had warned Bellew’s corner to flutter before this extraordinary fight was thrown in by his own trainer.
The second knock-down he suffered – amid all the uncounted slips by both combatants – came when he was battered halfway through the ropes in the 11th.
By the time he was able to drag his stricken leg back into the ring referee Phil Edwards was about to either finish the 10 count or wave it off. Haye’s trainer Shane McGuigan spared him the decision.
There was to be no 12th and final round for Haye. Not this night but he insists, at 36, the end of his career is still to come.
Perhaps next, a rematch with Bellew who promised him as much when he praised Haye’s courage as they enveloped each other in the new-found mutual respect of warriors.
Haye grimaces as Bellew comes in with the big hits towards the end of the bout, knowing the end is near
The Bomber looks back across the ring as Haye attempts to compose himself while down on the canvas
Haye is given the count by referee after being sent down to the canvas by Bellew, who could sense victory
The Bermondsey-born boxer was determined to carry on despite facing an uphill battle in the latter stages
Haye began to stumble around the ring awkwardly, clearly suffering from an injury sustained to his right ankle
The 36-year-old battled on resiliently but was forced to stagger around the ring in ungainly fashion
Tony Bellew initially smelt blood in the sixth round and pressed onwards for victory, putting David Haye on the back foot
Haye, who had limped and lurched on – and on – in the hope that one real heavyweight punch might yet fell Bellew, the world cruiserweight champion, acclaimed his ability and willingness to take a punch.
That capacity required us to swallow our predictions that Bellew would fall within three rounds. And much credit to him for resisting. Although Haye won most of the early sessions it was not until the sixth that his right leg gave way. He had also lost the opener on my card as he went for the first-round stoppage he clearly craved like a wild man.
A fight born of a desire to make money, which then turned into a bitter grudge match, ended up providing a sold-out O2 Arena in London’s Docklands with an epic spectacle.
Whether Haye’s heroics are enough to justify the world heavyweight title bonanza he craves against Anthony Joshua will depend on how he comes back from this. Although Bellew might be no easier to flatten in a rematch.
Haye was taken swiftly to hospital in the aftermath for emergency examination of his suspected Achilles tendon injury – an injury which left him unable to attend the usual post-fight press conferences at the O2.
The legendary Michael Buffer had got them rumbling in the first. Haye made the opening charge, catching Bellew with a right and left. Bellew landed a left of his own as they parted but Haye came and although he landed more, he took a couple of rights for his trouble.
Bellew was the calmer of the two. And Haye paused for a little showboating, giving Bellew an unexpected chance to steal the first round with some heavy counters.
Haye made a more rational start to the second, setting up the opening for a hefty right. But, when it landed, Bellew simply shrugged at him. Haye’s timing was rusty but when they exchanged big punches after one of his swinging misses he still managed to get the better of it.
Haye takes the opportunity to show off his superior reach and pressure Bellew into backing towards the ropes
Haye is sent flailing off balance with momentum as Bellew repels his early big hits on a dramatic night in London
Using his trademark power Haye rained down shots upon his opponents but Bellew continued to stand firm
Bellew was unperturbed at this stage and certainly the more relaxed. But he hardly threw a punch of note in the third as the clash rumbled on.
Moving into the fourth Haye began stalling his man. Bellew was clearly looking to take it into the later rounds but was sent staggering back into the ropes by a thunderous right-left-right combination.
Bellew showed more aggression at the start of the fifth, following his left jab with an occasional right. That exposed him to Haye’s power but the former world heavyweight champion’s timing was still rusty. Had it not been he might have ended it here as he had Bellew stumbling into the corner.
Bellew had thrown a few comments at Haye at the end of the fifth. Haye seemed to hurt his right leg as he stepped back into the ropes. He tried to end it there but a clash of heads gave Bellew a breather as he went down without a count. Haye, clearly handicapped, fell twice himself and the third one counted against him. He rose and limped back to his corner.
Maybe the achilles tendon for which he went to Munich for treatment in midweek had snapped. Gallantly he lurched out for a seventh in which he took massive punishment, hardly able to move. Somehow he stayed on his feet, withstood the barrage and limped away again like a lame horse. This was a two-point round to Bellew without a knock down.
Clearly believing he might still land a one-punch KO, Haye came out for the eighth. He came out punching, astonishingly, although hardly able to move. He tried to call Bellew in, arms down, in hope of landing a sucker punch. No taker.
Haye had promised Bellew a world of pain but the hurt was on him in his crippled condition in the ninth. But Bellew was still wary of walking onto a sucker punch. Haye kept swinging but could not plant his right leg to generate full power – and was then warned for a low blow.
Bellew threw a few remarks at the opposite corner at the end of the ninth but, in truth, Haye was putting in one of the ring’s bravest performances. The start of the 10th was delayed as referee Phil Edwards inspected the damaged limb, then allowed him to continue. It was Bellew’s turn to punch low and when he did again he was warned. But Haye could not move enough to land a response.
Haye again refused to remain on his stool. But still Bellew did not have the power to finish him off. Haye’s leg betrayed him again as he fell into a heap in corner. No count.
Bellew ducks under an onslaught of powerful punches from The Hayemaker in the second round
The two giants become locked as Bellew turns away a flurry of Haye punches in defence
Both boxers began the fight at electric pace, going toe-to-toe and pulling out the big hits early doors
The atmosphere in the ring prior to the showdown getting under way was electric, with anticipation felt all over
Haye immediately began to stare down his opponent Bellew in intimidating fashion upon entering the ring
But the one that mattered was soon upon him, Bellew’s final flurry knocked him half through the ropes and by the time he struggled back into the ring and rose to his feet trainer Shane McGuigan beat the referee to it by throwing in the towel.
In Haye’s agony and Bellew’s delight, they fell in the embrace of brave men.
The pair of them had swept into the O2 on the tidal wave of bile spewed during the obscene build-up to an event for which the marketing was as ugly as it was brilliant.
Awaiting Haye were Anthony Joshua, who he wants to fight him next, for love and money, and Dereck Chisora, who is campaigning vociferously to box him again.
Joshua’s choice will follow his April 29 battle of the ages at Wembley against Wladimir Klitschko, the 41-year-old who reigned over the heavyweight division for almost a decade before Tyson Fury shocked him and the world.
Frank Bruno, whose heavyweight popularity Joshua is beginning to emulate, was looking on also, as was Britain’s current world super-middleweight champion James DeGale and his predecessor Carl Froch, now a TV analyst.
There were more champions past and present in attendance as it seemed the whole boxing world had bought into the hype.
When it comes to fight night, the crowd couldn’t care less about the cussing which goes before.
Showbiz celebrities abounded.
There is not much political correctness about a testosterone fight crowd. Activist come singer Lily Allen was roundly booed, Bonkin’ Boris Becker loudly cheered.
Liverpudlian Tony Bellew made his way to the ring wearing the club colours of his beloved Everton Football CLub
Bellew is swarmed by cameras and phones on his way to the ring as fans attempt to take a snap of the boxer
Haye carried a focused stare as he made his way through the masses down to the ring inside London’s O2 Arena
But the biggest roars prior to the ring entrances went up for Bruno and Joshua.
Bellew bounced into the ring. Haye took his time, turning to study all corners of he arena and soaking up the atmosphere he had created.
That was as raw as some of the language had been.It was also electric with anticipation.
What were they expecting? Blood and thunder.
Earlier in the evening Katie Taylor, Ireland’s former Olympic and world gold medallist, extended the start of her professional career to a third straight win.
Taylor cruised to victory over the outclassed Monica Gentili, winning the first four two-minute rounds by wide margins before knocking down and stopping her in the fifth.
If anything, with her crisp combinations and slick movement, Taylor looks even more suited to the professional ranks than the amateur.
But even given the shallow pool of talent in the women’s game, there will be harder tasks ahead than Gentili, who was a late substitute.
Legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer was on hand to call a start to proceedings for the showdown in London’s O2 arena