Heading into today’s rematch between Tony “The Bomber” Bellew and David Haye at London’s O2 Arena, it was generally acknowledged that Haye had the better tools. But would his body hold up? In the first meeting 13 months ago, Haye ruptured his Achilles tendon in the sixth frame and it was all downhill for him from there. In round 11, the bout was stopped after Haye fell out of the ring. Then the rematch had to be pushed back five months when the “Hayemaker” tore a muscle in his biceps during a routine workout in November.
Haye, 37, insisted he was fully healed, but he wasn’t. In the fourth round, his right leg started to betray him again. But even before that, he was in dire straits. Bellew had him on the canvas twice in the third round and finished him off in the fifth.
The 35-year-old Bellew, who improved to 30-2-1 (20), is something of a late bloomer. In 2013, WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson blew him away in six frames, but he went on to win a piece of the world cruiserweight title and has now become a force in the heavyweight division (although he might be better served by returning to cruiserweight and luring Andre Ward out of retirement).
Had David Haye won today’s rematch, it would be fair to describe him as a borderline Hall of Famer. He is a former unified world cruiserweight champion and a former world heavyweight titlist. But at age 37 and with a history of assorted injuries, this is likely the end of the road for him. He leaves the sport with a record of 28-5 with 26 KOs.
Other Bouts of Note:
In a surprisingly one-sided fight, Emmanuel Rodriguez (18-0) outclassed Paul Butler (26-2) to win the vacant IBF world bantamweight title. Rodriguez, who scored two knockdowns, won every round on two of the scorecards and 10 rounds on the other. Although he was undefeated, Rodriguez was largely unknown, having fought almost all of his bouts in his native Puerto Rico. Butler entered the contest riding a 9-fight winning streak.
In a 12-round super middleweight clash, John Ryder 26-4 (13 KOs) made short work of fellow southpaw Jamie Cox (25-2), stopping him in the second round. Ryder unleashed a right hook to the forehead after backing Cox against the ropes and when the discombobulated Cox got to his feet, it was a shade too late to beat the count. Ryder competes in a strong division whose members include countrymen George Groves, James DeGale, and Callum Smith. He’s a better fighter now than he was back in 2013 when he made a very respectable showing in a 12-round contest with Billy Joe Saunders.
Joe Joyce 4-0 (4 KOs) captured the Commonwealth (British Empire) heavyweight title in just his fourth pro fight, knocking out Lenroy Thomas 22-5-1 (10 KOs) in the second round. A 32-year-old Londoner of Scotch-Irish and Nigerian descent, the six-foot-six Joyce, who owns a degree in fine arts from Middlesex University, was a silver medalist at super heavyweight in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Thomas, who was three-and-inches shorter and outweighed by 20 pounds, was down three times from body punches before the referee halted the slaughter.
Also, in a spirited battle, Belfast’s James Tennyson (22-2, 18 KOs) overcame a shaky start to score a fifth round TKO over previously unbeaten Martin Joseph Ward (19-1-2). Tennyson is ranked #2 at 130 pounds by the WBA.
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