There’s no doubt fans and boxing personnel alike witnessed a new kind of David Haye this week as the two-weight world champion continually took the bait offered to him by Tony Bellew.
Haye, 36, lost his rag completely at a press conference in Liverpool on Monday, and to Bellew’s considerable delight, was engaging in a full-blown argument with his army of supporters at the Hilton Hotel.
Rewind back to their opening presser and Haye, not only swung but landed a punch of Bellew’s chin, to prove the Londoner has never been thinking clearly when it comes to his desire to shut the WBC cruiserweight title holder’s mouth.
Bellew has been inside Haye’s head for some considerable time now as the clock ticks down to detonation at The O2 Arena on Saturday night.
Haye has a clear distain for the outspoken Liverpudlian, which promoter Eddie Hearn and trainer Dave Coldwell are hoping plays right into Bellew’s hands at the first bell.
Team Bomber are under no illusions as to what is coming their way in the opening few rounds and are banking on riding out the storm before coming on strong in the later sessions.
It’s a risky strategy, especially knowing how much power Haye possesses and doubly when it’s common knowledge it’s the last thing a boxer loses in his armory – just ask ‘Big’ George Foreman’s later opponents.
The big question in this fight is, does Bellew have the chin to survive until Haye slows down? – and many in the know would say a firm no. Bellew is set for trouble right off the bat, but does have brute force of his own to turn to and Haye has not been chin tested fully for some time.
Tony Bellew landing a clean power shot on any heavyweight in the world would surely have some effect, which coupled with the possibility of Haye losing a yard of pace when gaining a stone since 2012, could be intriguing viewing if it happens.
The smart money is on a Haye stoppage in the first half of the fight, and whilst many don’t expect the contest to see the following six rounds, it will be interesting to gauge how much the ‘Hayemaker’ has left should it do so.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay