By Steve Bateson
It’s been ten days since Tony Bellew achieved the unthinkable and stopped David Haye in the 11th round of their Heavyweight clash in London. Since then the rumour mills have swirled about where each fighter’s path will lead to next but the fact remains that right now it is all just pure speculation; there are no definitive answers available to us.
We’ve had the merry-go-round from Haye, Bellew and Eddie Hearn as to what options are available and may be next on the agenda but it may be months down the line until the picture becomes a whole lot clearer. Tony Bellew hinted at retirement, David Haye has insisted he wants the re-match whilst Eddie Hearn has now declared that "We’re going to fight again this year, 100 percent" So is a re-match the best route to take:
Is this what the general public want to see? It is hard one to gauge at this moment in time, there is certainly interest in it but one has to question if that same clamour will exist in the 10-12 months it takes Haye to recover from the Achilles injury that plagued him so badly at the O2.
Is it financially viable: Without a doubt both boxers will make plenty of money if they choose to do it again. Reported earnings from the first fight are that Haye collected £4.2 million whilst Bellew picked up in the region of £2.8 million. Those amounts would surely rise, especially for Bellew, if the re-match is signed and money is a huge overriding factor in a sport where you put your health at risk every time you step in the ring. For Haye it seems a no brainer, he has based a lot of his career off of following the path of least resistance with the most financial gain and Bellew has already stated that this is all about securing a lucrative future for his family…it is extremely likely that when the cash is presented in a cold light of the day it could become very difficult to turn down.
What are the ramifications for each fighter: For Bellew, one has to believe his career and legacy are secured already no matter how you choose to view his victory. He marched into the lion’s den and found a way to win, as an 8-1 outsider in a weight class he had never fought at before that is seriously impressive, injury to Haye or not. To grant Haye a re-match would definitely line his pockets and as a proud man he may see it as an opportunity to silence any remaining doubters that he can get the job done against a fully fit opponent. But is it necessary for him? Not even in the slightest. History will remember him as the winner and there are other opportunities there for him should he choose to pursue them. He certainly has the upper hand in the negotiation stakes and could insist on Haye travelling to Goodison Park for the return and that could be a deciding factor for Bellew, who will want one more night in front of his loyal Evertonian followers.
For Haye you have to wonder what his motivation will be aside from the money that he will make. You could argue it’s an ego thing and that he will not be able to rest knowing he lost to a fighter who nearly the entire boxing world gave no hope of winning. But what if he was to lose again? Had Haye won the original fight it was unclear how exactly he would be in any more of a prominent light considering he just beat a man in the weight division below him, win or lose in a rematch and I’m not exactly sure what that does for his stock. If he beats Bellew then once again you can level the argument that he just disposed of a cruiserweight, are we then supposed to suspend disbelief and start talking about him as a legitimate threat to Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker etc? I just don’t see it. Money and settling a score can be the only driving forces for Haye in this one because it certainly adds nothing to his resume as a Heavyweight fighter. If his career is to continue following a re-match then he would still need to prove that he belongs in the upper echelons of a division where he hasn’t fought a "credible" opponent, on paper, for five years.
What about Haye’s injury? Well we just don’t know. They say the surgery is a success but a torn Achilles tendon isn’t exactly a scraped knee and at 36 years old his body isn’t exactly in prime condition, no matter how it may look superficially. Then there’s the shoulder injury that caused his initial retirement and the rumours of damage to his back, it remains to be seen just how "fit" David Haye is anymore. He looked sluggish and ponderous in the opening rounds against Bellew before the injury even occurred. A re-match with Bellew and the financial reward involved is clearly Haye’s preferred choice, he could arguably view it as his safest bet whether he wins or not. Having an eighteen stone fighter like Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury or Wilder leaning on him could cause irreparable damage to his body.
But just how likely is it: Well that’s the thing, we just don’t know. If Haye is to fight again we are looking at sometime between January-March 2018 but Eddie Hearn has given his word that Tony Bellew will see action again this year….is he really likely to fight twice more?
Bellew is still is the WBC Cruiserweight Champion although I expect an impending announcement that he will relinquish the green belt. Mairis Breidis and Marco Huck collide on April 1st for the interim strap but neither of those offer enough of a monetary incentive for Bellew to take the risk.
Eddie Hearn has told us that both Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker’s camps have been in touch about title defences against "The Bomber" whilst there have been rumblings that Tyson Fury, if and when he returns, would also be interested in all-British showdown. All of those fights would generate money for Bellew and the fights against the Heavyweight Champions would present him an opportunity that most fighters only ever dream of. Both Parker and Wilder could be convinced to travel to the UK, especially Wilder who isn’t a top market draw in the U.S. Bellew would once again be the underdog, a role he seems to relish, but in the grand scheme of things he would be onto a win-win situation just like against Haye. If he picks up the win then he shocks the world, adds even more legitimacy to his CV and can call himself the heavyweight champion of the world…..if he loses then he was in with much bigger men, never expected to win and it does him no harm whatsoever.
For this re-match to happen depends entirely upon the next move of Tony Bellew’s career. I see it as unlikely that he waits another year to fight again, I expect to see him back in a ring somewhere around October-November time and I believe there is a great chance it will be to compete for the WBC or WBO Heavyweight belts. If he was to lose that challenge then he may see a Haye re-match as an opportunity to end his career on a positive note but that leaves it all very reliant upon ifs and buts.
Matchroom, with the Sky hype-train behind it, will continue to offer out soundbites and teasers as the months go by in order to keep it in the public’s mind but unless Tony Bellew gives this the green light it seems very unlikely we will see a second edition.