Bellew eyes greater rewards after sending Haye towards exit door
Tony Bellew will try to attract the American Andre Ward, the undefeated former light-heavyweight world champion, out of retirement after leaving David Haye's career in tatters.
Bellew (35) knocked down the former two-weight world champion three times at the O2 Arena in London, before the fight was stopped in the fifth round.
The Liverpudlian is now aiming for Ward, claiming that he has the style to defeat the American and also challenged former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who returns to the ring on June 9, after a 30-month absence. "I would love to knock Tyson Fury out and I know I can," said Bellew.
Bellew, who moved to 30 victories, with two losses and one draw, did, however, dismiss the prospect of challenging the two incumbent heavyweight belt holders, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.
As Haye (37) contemplates his future after a catalogue of injuries, Bellew has moved himself into the box-office seat. "I need a world title or a big, huge name," he said.
Bellew added that one of his biggest battles might be with his wife and sons. "They all want me to retire, but I'm going to fight on - it's not time to stop yet," he said.
Saturday's fight began cagily, before Haye was knocked down twice in the third round. When the end came, it was a merciful stoppage by the referee as Haye, barely able to stay upright, tried to summon the right-hand haymaker that once put opponents to sleep.
The Londoner's reflexes and timing had left him, but Bellew boxed smartly, even when Haye was hurt.
Bellew refused to rush in, instead patiently waiting to explode with his faster hands. Haye, succumbing to his third defeat in six fights over seven years and his second to Bellew, did not attend the post-fight press conference, but did admit: "Bellew boxed a great fight. He did some clever stuff. I didn't. He had a great game plan and I had no answer."
Bellew revealed that he had urged his bitter rival to hang up his gloves. "My first words when he hugged me were 'please stop'," he said. "This is a very unforgiving sport. Boxing does no favours to fighters who are over 35, he does not have the speed and explosiveness any more."
The first fight between the pair had left question marks. This second coming was no fluke. Bellew was sharp, crisp, emphatic and his work is now grooved. It was Haye who stepped through the doors of the last-chance saloon. And they swung back in his face.
Saturday night ought to be Haye's last ring walk. His was a great journey. He defeated all-comers at cruiserweight; beat 7ft Nikolai Valuev to claim a vaunted heavyweight crown. But that was nine years ago. Haye must face the fact his time has come and gone. (© Daily Telegraph, London)