Tony Bellew caused a massive upset by stopping David Haye in the 11th round of an intriguing clash at the O2.
Haye’s demise, however, began some rounds earlier, in the sixth, when he slipped and severely injured his ankle.
After the slip, Haye was barely able to stand, but he fought on valiantly.
Bellew tried to stop Haye but started to run out of gas, and despite Haye’s injury, Bellew remained unable to find the killer blow.
Eventually, late in the eleventh, Bellew landed a left hook, knocking Haye through the ropes. Haye managed to get back in the ring to beat the count, at which point his corner threw in the towel.
Haye was surprisingly gracious in defeat, speaking highly of Bellew and eager for a rematch.
“Tony is a great fighter,” said Haye. “I came to do a demolition job, but this guy has a heart of a lion. I have knocked out bigger men with a lot less than this guy took.
“He took my best shots, and he put me down. I’d love to do it again if the fans want to see it again. We will do it wherever he wants it.”
An ecstatic Bellew, quickly interjected, saying “Let’s do it at Goodison Park.”
Haye began the contest looking to end things early, throwing wild right hands, which Bellew sought to counter.
In the second, Haye’s accuracy improved. He effectively used the jab to work the body, and while still regularly missing with the huge right hands he did manage to catch Bellew before the round ended.
In the fourth, Haye finally landed one of the huge right hands and followed it up with a big left hand.
Haye continued to work the body with the jab, trying to distract Bellew with feints and was again able to land a big right, leaving Bellew momentarily stuck in the ropes toward the end of the fifth.
In the sixth, the fight would change completely.
Bellew momentarily tasted the canvas, but it was judged to have been a slip.
Then, halfway through the round, while moving back, Haye appeared to injure his right leg severely.
— Andrew Fox (@foxymodo7) March 5, 2017
Bellew, sensing a wounded opponent, went in for the kill, but was unable to drop his injured opponent.
Haye did, however, as a result of his injury, go to the canvas three times in what remained of the sixth.
Although not a result of a blow from Bellew, Haye’s third visit to the canvas was judged to have been a knockdown by the referee, Phil Edwards. However, Haye beat the count, survived the round and staggered back to his corner.
Bellew desperately tried to end the bout in the seventh but couldn’t muster up the strength to stop Haye, who spent most of the round propped up by the ropes.
In the eighth and ninth, Haye was breathing heavily, Bellew had run out of gas and his punches lacked real power.
Haye’s corner was wrapping his ankle in an attempt to stabilise his leg as we entered the tenth. Bellew continued to stalk the injured Haye, who desperately sought to land the big counter punch.
Eventually, in the eleventh, Bellew’s left hook and Haye’s corner put an end to the contest.
Not many believed Bellew when he promised that he would pull off such an upset, but he did it.
Bellew also promised he would give Haye a rematch if he won, and perhaps, in this instance, we should all believe him.