Tony Bellew believes one of the fundamental differences between himself and David Haye is his win-at-all-costs mentality as he plots to upset the odds once again on May 5.
Bellew was an overwhelming underdog going into last year’s first grudge encounter but was ahead on all three of the judges’ scorecards when he stopped his heavyweight rival in the 11th round at London’s O2 Arena.
The victory was slightly soured as Haye visibly struggled after rupturing an Achilles tendon midway through the fight, and the former cruiserweight and heavyweight world champion is the favourite to gain revenge when they meet again at the same venue next Saturday.
Asked what his motivation is ahead of the rematch, Bellew told Press Association Sport: “To prove everyone wrong – again. It seems to be a common theme: Bellew is the massive underdog and he just wants to prove everyone wrong.
“The plan is just to do it again and win at all costs. That’s the difference between me and him: you will see when we get to a certain level it’s just win at all costs, I have to win. I just have to win. I’m not someone who can come home and just accept losing.
“I’m a winner through and through and that’s one of my strongest attributes, I have to win and I’ll do whatever takes to win on May 5.
“I’m in good shape, I’m in good spirits and I’m ready for another war.”
The build-up to their first bout was marred by controversy, with Haye fined £25,000 by the British Boxing Board of Control after admitting his pre-fight comments brought boxing into disrepute.
Haye has adopted a respectful tone in recent months but Bellew, a former world champion at cruiserweight, has scoffed at suggestions he is a changed man.
Bellew said: “He’s about as humble as Madonna. David wasn’t humbled, he’s just got humble pie on his face because what he said, he didn’t do. Everything I said in the build-up came true.
“David is trying to market himself in a better way: look at his training videos, he says nothing controversial.
“This is the fella who said he was going to render me unconscious, this is the same fella who said ‘I’m the worst world champion in history ever’.
“I don’t forget that. Those thoughts don’t change overnight, you don’t go from being the worst world champion ever to thinking ‘right, this guy can really fight’.
“It’s just that it didn’t work for him and because it didn’t work he’s now changed his approach. But his mindset is still the same when it comes to me.”
Haye has linked up with respected Cuban trainer Ismael Salas for the return fight but Bellew believes the impact will be minimal.
He added: “He’s going to have a few new trick and techniques. But once four or five rounds passes, the old dog will revert to type.”