David Haye has vowed to use the game plan that inspired his finest ever victory to ensure revenge in Saturday’s rematch against Tony Bellew.
The two return to London’s 02 Arena and both recognise that Haye’s career will be over if loses again.
Before moving to heavyweight and winning the WBA title, Haye has established himself as one of the finest ever cruiserweights and a British great by winning three of the four world titles.
The first two of those came when he travelled to Paris after a difficult training camp and climbed off the canvas to stop France’s dangerous Jean-Marc Mormeck in seven rounds in 2007, and it is the tactics used that night – almost 11 years ago – that he insists will be key.
Haye is widely considered an explosive fighter with questionable stamina and who is at his most dangerous in the opening rounds.
He is also expected to be confronted with ring-rust owing to his long-term inactivity, but he said: “I’ve learnt from my mistakes inside and outside of the ring.
“This time around it will be more clinical. Something I’ve never done in any of my previous fights, bar the Jean-Marc Mormeck fight; the plan was to push on from round seven onwards, and it’s the same thing.
“It’s to do as much damage in the first six rounds as possible, and then step it up from round seven to round 12.
“If he’s as tough and durable and has the heart his team believe he has, then we’ve got ourselves a cracking fight. I’ll give the performance a lot of people expected the first time around.
“(My new trainer) Ismael Salas says ‘The first six rounds are about chopping him down and breaking him up; from round seven let’s see what’s left’. That’s when I’m ready to really put my foot on the gas and start pushing through the second half of the fight.”
Bellew, who remains the underdog, albeit to a lesser degree following his unexpected victory last March, regardless cast doubt on Haye’s ability to reinvent himself in the way his opponent will likely need.
He is two years younger than the 37-year-old Haye, who has suffered multiple injuries, including the most recent one to his biceps – which meant Saturday’s fight was postponed from the original December date.
“David Haye has never done that in his whole life,” he said. “Boxing is a sport where fighters do not get better as they get older.
“You’re going to have to do things that you don’t really want to do.
“It doesn’t detract anything from the great, fantastic legacy you’ve left, so don’t worry about that.
“We’re all going to remember you for your fantastic, special nights, but Saturday night is not going to be one of them.
“There’ll be no rematch this time, David, we’ll just close the curtain on you and that’s all we’ll do.”