David Haye reveals Tony Bellew ‘feud’ was to ‘sex the fight up’ as he opens up on real relationship with bitter rival

DAVID HAYE  revealed in an exclusive interview with SunSport that his feud with Tony Bellew was to 'sex the fight up', as he reflected on the final rivalry of his career.

As Haye is preparing to compete at the Goliath Poker Tournament 2019, presented by Grosvenor Casinos, the former heavyweight world champion opened up about his duels with Bellew.

 Haye claims his rivalry with Bellew was built to sell the fight

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Haye claims his rivalry with Bellew was built to sell the fight

In October 2016 after Bellew successfully defended his WBC cruiserweight world title against BJ Flores, a former sparring partner of Haye, ‘Bomber’ called out the Hayemaker.

Just a month later it was announced Bellew would move up to heavyweight and fight Haye, and so began one of the most unsavoury build ups to a British boxing match.

Haye made distasteful threats to his opponent – predicting that Bellew’s children would have to visit him in hospital while also claiming he had intentions of ending his counterpart's career.

In the pre-fight press conference Haye also swung a left hook at Bellew, as their rivalry brewed to the point where the public had forgotten about the £16.95 pay-per-view price.

 The two clashed at pre-fight press conferences with Haye even punching Bellew at one

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The two clashed at pre-fight press conferences with Haye even punching Bellew at one
 The two first met in March 2017, at the O2 Arena in London

Reuters
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The two first met in March 2017, at the O2 Arena in London
 Haye is learning to hone his five card skills as he looks to master poker

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Haye is learning to hone his five card skills as he looks to master poker
 The retired boxer will compete in the largest poker tournament outside of Las Vegas

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The retired boxer will compete in the largest poker tournament outside of Las Vegas

Deontay Wilder in explosive promo for fight with Tyson Fury in Las Vegas on December 1

Haye once said: “I've never had a fight where I've wanted to cave someone's skull in like this ever.

“Normally you want to knock someone out but I really want to do some damage to this guy.”

And it wasn’t just his opponent that Haye targeted as he labelled Bellew’s supporters, “a bunch of f****** retards” during a press conference at the Hilton in Liverpool.

However, Haye admitted the bitterness and nastiness he showed towards Bellew throughout the build up to their first fight was largely fabricated – in an attempt to interest fans more in a fight that was perceived as a one horse race.

Pre-fight Bellew was adjudged as a 6/1 underdog – meaning Conor McGregor, a boxing debutant, at 4/1 had a better chance of beating Floyd Mayweather, according to bookies.

Haye said: “I think people just think there’s more beef than there actually is. I’ve never really had a problem with Tony Bellew.

“In the lead up to the fight you say what you need to say to sex the fight up, but I never really wished him any harm.

 Bellew was a 6/1 underdog coming into the first fight

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Bellew was a 6/1 underdog coming into the first fight
 It was the first time Bellew had fought at heavyweight - having previously reigning as WBC world champion at cruiserweight

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It was the first time Bellew had fought at heavyweight – having previously reigning as WBC world champion at cruiserweight

“The first (fight) I had to be the villain because nobody really gave Bellew a shot, so if I didn’t make some noise, if I didn’t scream and shout then people wouldn’t have watched the fight.

“But me going over and above in terms of whacking him at the press conference, and training on a yacht in Miami and doing all the crazy stuff that were talking points, it why it did great number on pay-per-view.”

Despite receiving a fine of £25,00 for his pre-fight behaviour, Haye’s theory was proved right, with 890,000 fans paying to watch the fight that Bellew would ultimately win in round 11.

For Haye, 16 years of professional boxing experience afforded him with the knowledge that he would have to become the ‘villain’ in his rivalry with Bellew, to drum up interest.

 Haye had spent time out training in Miami with trainer Shane McGuigan and the boxer was seen relaxing and enjoying himself on a yacht

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Haye had spent time out training in Miami with trainer Shane McGuigan and the boxer was seen relaxing and enjoying himself on a yacht
 Bellew began his pro career at light-heavyweight before moving up to cruiserweight where he would win the WBC world title in 2016

Mark Robinson
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Bellew began his pro career at light-heavyweight before moving up to cruiserweight where he would win the WBC world title in 2016
 Haye struggled to hold his balance in the latter stages off the fight after his damaging injury

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Haye struggled to hold his balance in the latter stages off the fight after his damaging injury

And this was a ‘business’ decision only those involved in the boxing industry would understand and recognise.

Haye said: “People really felt the rivalry, and that’s the business side of it.

"If I hadn’t have done that all, and I had just got on with my training and said he was a good fighter, it probably would have done half the buys that it did.

“People didn’t tune in to watch a competitive fight, because I was a massive favourite to knock him out.

 It was the first time in 13 years that Haye had suffered a KO defeat - having been stopped by Carl Thompson in 2004

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It was the first time in 13 years that Haye had suffered a KO defeat – having been stopped by Carl Thompson in 2004
 Trainer McGuigan threw in the towel in round 11 after Haye was dropped

Times Newspapers Ltd
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Trainer McGuigan threw in the towel in round 11 after Haye was dropped
 The former two-weight world champ was knocked through the ropes - but Haye amazingly got to his feet before the fight was stopped

Times Newspapers Ltd
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The former two-weight world champ was knocked through the ropes – but Haye amazingly got to his feet before the fight was stopped

“They tuned in to see a massive rivalry and see what happened as they knew I was making big promises. They wanted to see the grudge match, rather than the boxing match.

“Anyone you spoke to just said, ‘Haye will just knock him out’, or ‘(Haye) is a heavyweight (Bellew) is a cruiserweight, Haye will just knock him out’.

“We were actually similar sizes anyway, but that’s how I had to position the fight.”

Haye is now retired at the age of 38, and said goodbye to the boxing world after Bellew halted him in round five of their May 2018 rematch.

 The two rematched the following year with Bellew winning in round five

Richard Pelham – The Sun
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The two rematched the following year with Bellew winning in round five
 Haye was dropped three times before the referee called a halt to the contest

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Haye was dropped three times before the referee called a halt to the contest
 After the fight the two exchanged in a show of respect

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After the fight the two exchanged in a show of respect

But Haye can not only look back on his rivalry with Bellew and move on, but also with Derek Chisora, a former opponent he now manages – despite bottling him in early 2012.

After Bellew’s recent loss against unified cruiserweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk in November – Haye and his two former rivals shared a picture together.

A picture that ultimately sums up how quickly the the most volatile and ruthless rivalries can be forgotten once retirement and hindsight play their part.

However, Haye, who was ringside to watch his conquer Bellew be knocked out in eight rounds, cited he wanted nothing but a victory for his former nemesis.

 Chisora, Bellew and Haye all share a pic as former rivalries are forgotten about

Instagram / @mrdavidhaye
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Chisora, Bellew and Haye all share a pic as former rivalries are forgotten about
 Haye beat Chisora in 2012 after a bitter rivarly - however, Hayemaker now manages Del Boy

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Haye beat Chisora in 2012 after a bitter rivarly – however, Hayemaker now manages Del Boy
 Chisora was knocked out in round five of the 2012 grudge match

News Group Newspapers Ltd
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Chisora was knocked out in round five of the 2012 grudge match

Haye added: “I was really supportive with Tony against Usyk, I really wanted him to win that fight.

“I thought Bellew boxed a tremendous fight, and I thought he boxed Usyk way better than he boxed me.

“I’m really glad that version of Bellew didn’t turn up against me in the two fights, otherwise it would have been way harder for me, not that it was easy.

“He showed he had the skill, and the game plan, Dave Coldwell instructed an incredible game plan for that fight and it was working.

 Haye was working from ringside for Sky Sports as a commentator and pundit for Usyk v Bellew

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Haye was working from ringside for Sky Sports as a commentator and pundit for Usyk v Bellew
 Bellew was stopped in round eight against Usyk, despite being ahead on two scorecards

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Bellew was stopped in round eight against Usyk, despite being ahead on two scorecards
 Haye and Bellew are now both retired from boxing

REUTERS
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Haye and Bellew are now both retired from boxing

“But he was at the point where he’s 35 years of age, and he’s not able at 35 to maintain that amazing pace he set for himself.

“To beat Usyk you have to maintain that pace the whole 12 rounds, if he had done that he would have won the fight, plain and simple – and he probably would have been able to do that at 32.”

DAVID HAYE  revealed in an exclusive interview with SunSport that his feud with Tony Bellew was to 'sex the fight up', as he reflected on the final rivalry of his career.