Tony Bellew pounded out a decisive conclusion to his feud with David Haye, sending his British heavyweight rival to the canvas three times on the way to a dominant fifth-round win in London.
Bellew upset the odds to stop Haye in 11 rounds when they met at the same O2 Arena in March last year, although the former WBA heavyweight champion was badly compromised by an Achilles tendon injury suffered in round six.
That meant legitimate questions loomed over the Liverpudlian's victory in a brutal battle, but the 35-year-old ex-WBC cruiserweight king blasted away any lingering doubt in a performance that surely sends Haye into overdue retirement.
Haye, 37, pledged to move away from the gung-ho approach that contributed to his debilitating setback last time out and he did enough to pocket the first two rounds, prevailing in a battle of contrasting jabs – the older man's slung low as Bellew popped out his firm lead in orthodox fashion.
The fourth was a sustained beatdown, Haye taking his lumps and resisting the inevitable. Bellew was unable to find the finish and his trainer David Coldwell pleaded with him to jab at the end of the session.
However, Bellew had other ideas for his left hand and another clattering hook saw Haye tumble face first. He beat the count but the follow-up barrage saw referee Howard Foster step in to end the fight and, probably, an illustrious career.