O2 Arena, London - After nearly a year of trash talking and numerous confrontations, Tony Bellew (29-2-1, 19 KOs) pulled off a huge upset by dropping and stopping former two division world champion David Haye (28-3, 26 KOs) in the eleventh round.
In the sixth round, Haye appeared to suffer a right leg injury and he was never the same in the contest. A week ago, there was talk that Haye suffered an achilles tendon injury in training camp and actually traveled to Germany to get medical approval for this fight. There was some fear that Haye would withdraw.
For Haye, this was his third fight since returning to the sport last January after more than a three year layoff. He only fought a total of three rounds in 2016 after scoring two quick knockouts against overmatched opponents.
Bellew, who holds the WBC cruiserweight title, will have to make a mandatory defense against the winner of the April 1 clash between Marco Huck and Mairis Briedis, who battle for the WBC interim-belt.
At the start of the first, Haye jumped right on Bellew and was knocked back from Bellew who was swinging for the fences. Haye tagged Bellew with a good shot, but he was able to take the punch and was throwing back. Haye was jabbing to the body, but Bellew was using his speed to land good right hands. Haye was a bit wild and allowing himself to get hit as Bellew seemed to have the faster hand and good timing early on.
Haye was trying to walk Bellew down in the second. Haye was jabbing and landed a good right. Haye's jab was the story of the round, but he was unable to land any big shots. They had a brief exchange of punches with neither landing flush. In the third, Haye continued to come forward and was walking Bellew down with the jab. There wasn't much punching from either boxer. Bellew was mostly on the move, as Haye continued to miss his shots.
In the fourth, Bellew was standing his ground more early on. Haye was still throwing the jab and landed two good shots when he closed the distance. Bellew took the punches well. Haye continued to jab to the body while looking to set something up. The jab was still working for Haye in the fifth. He was throwing the jab to the head, the body, the shoulder and looking to throw Bellew off his game. Bellew was starting to take more chances, but not able to land much of anything.
The sixth round saw Bellew start off with hard shots and he had Haye in serious trouble. Haye appeared to suffer some sort of leg injury. Bellew was landing big punches and Haye was all over the place. In the last twenty seconds Haye went down. He made it to his feet, but was limping badly back to his corner.
Bellew came out attacking with huge shots at the start of the seventh. Haye was unable to move and seemed to have a leg injury. Bellew continued to throw hard punches and land some of them as Haye was pinned against the ropes. Haye was practically holding onto the ropes to keep himself balanced as Bellew was trying to go for the finish. Bellew was punching himself out, because he was unable to get the finish.
The eight started with Haye breathing very hard. Bellew was now taking his time and looking for something big. Haye landed a combination of punches, but Bellew ate them and came forward with shots of his own to back Haye up to the ropes. Bellew was already very tired and unable to do much to finish Haye off. The ninth was a bit more even as Bellew had little steam on his punches and Haye was trying to change the tide with a big shot. Bellew still had the edge in the round.
Before the start of the tenth, Haye's corner was wrapping his ankle with tape to stabilize the injury. Bellew was pushing forward and throwing big shots when the round started. Haye was on the defensive and looking for a big counter.
The eleventh actually started with Haye coming forward. Bellew allowed him to come forward for a moment before standing his ground and going back to work. Bellew threw a combination of punches that sent Haye down for a second time and through the ropes. As Haye struggled to get to his feet, his corner threw in the towel.