Tony Bellew scored one of the biggest upsets in British boxing history by stopping 10-to-1 odds favorite David Haye in 10 dramatic rounds on Saturday in London. The odds of Bellew winning the fight by knockout were 80-1.
Bellew (29-2-1, 19 knockouts), the reigning WBC cruiserweight titleholder, was given little-to-no chance of beating fellow UK star Haye, a much bigger and more-athletic former world cruiserweight champ and WBA heavyweight beltholder. However, the 34-year-old Liverpool native, who most fans thought would be stopped in the first few rounds, boxed a smart counter-punching strategy early on and lasted into the middle rounds. In a bizarre Round 6, he was dropped (though it was not clear if was counted as an official knockdown) during an exchange that apparently resulted in Haye injuring his right leg, maybe his ankle or his knee, and Bellew took advantage of it, pouncing on the 36-year-old Londoner.
From that point in the fight, Bellew took over, working a hobbled Haye along the ropes. However, Haye hung tough, avoided a lot of head shots while leaning back on the top rope and occasionally landed counter punches. But he continued to hurt his leg every time he loaded up with big shots and in Round 11 a series of left hooks sent Haye halfway out of the ring. He got up and was prepared to continue but his corner wisely tossed in the towel, resulting in a technical stoppage at 2:16 of the round.
Haye (28-3, 26 KOs), to his credit, would not mention the injury during the post-fight interviews, giving all the credit to the big underdog.
“This guy has got the heart of the lion,” he said. “I’ve knocked out guys a lot bigger. I gave it my best but he had the bigger heart and the bigger balls tonight. I’ve never been in a fight like that before.
“If the fans would like to see it again, I’d love to do it again. He’s the man, he beat me fair and square, so he can choose when and where to fight again. I’m at his mercy. There’s no rematch clause in this fight.”
Bellew wasn’t in the mood to discuss rematches. He relished the moment and gave props to Haye, who had engaged in some nasty pre-fight words.
“He’s was everything I expected,” Bellew said of Haye, “the biggest puncher in the heavyweight division. But you can have all the talent in the world, I will not stop. I am the champion of the misfits!”
A full fight report from Elliot Worsell will be posted shortly.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer
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