David Haye intensified his mind games with Tony Bellew by claiming Saturday’s rematch will be “dragged out for as long as Bellew can stand”.
The former WBA heavyweight champion is under pressure to revive his career at London’s 02 Arena and recognises that unless he avenges last March’s defeat, he will never fight again.
He ruptured his Achilles during that 11th-round defeat and a biceps injury then forced him to postpone Saturday’s fight from December. Before the first of those he had also fought less than eight rounds since 2012.
With that the case, significant concerns surround his stamina and potential ring-rust, with his best chance of victory considered to be pursuing an early stoppage.
Bellew, 35, is also widely considered the more durable of the two fighters but Haye, who prior to Bellew regularly succeeded in getting into his opponents’ minds, is adamant he will do the opposite to what so many expect.
“Normally I look to close the show quickly but, this time, I will drag it out for as long as Tony can stand up,” said the 37-year-old, who last year recruited Cuba’s Ismael Salas as his new trainer after splitting with Shane McGuigan.
“He will not hear the final bell. I will break him down and stop him.
“I believe this fight goes longer than six rounds. I am looking and bringing this fight as long as it can go.
“It will be toe-to-toe action. I will bring the heat way more than I did last time. Last time it wasn’t educated pressure, it was just reckless. This time it will be educated.
“Last time I was too angry, I let Bellew wind me up. (Living with defeat has) been horrible. Do you know Bellew’s personality? He’s rubbed it in. I cannot allow that to happen again.
“He’s been a world champion at cruiserweight but he’s moving to heavyweight; this is my division so we’ll see who the main man is.”