By Louis Gibbon
Another Matchroom masterclass took place nearly a fortnight ago on 4th March, though the media are yet again pandering to this poor excuse of a pay-per-view. A cruiserweight fighting an inactive, injured heavyweight with no title on the line, has somehow been constituted as one of the ‘great fights’. The nature of the Matchroom show is turning boxing into a WWE-style event: punches and tables being thrown at press conference just to generate artificial hype.
Post-fight, commentators continued the hype to justify the ludicrous PPV price of £21.95, while failing to address the overriding factor in the fight – that David Haye had torn his Achilles in the fifth round and was fighting on one leg up until his corner waved the fight off in the eleventh. Haye was comfortably ahead on the scorecards up to the injury and despite carrying on with it, Bellew struggled to knock him out. Yet, many have celebrated Bellew’s victory as an ‘upset’, attempting to justify the claim by stating Haye was tiring, and Bellew was coming into the fight, when in fact as the fight progressed Haye was landing more and more, and Bellew less and less. There’s no doubt that, injury-free, Haye was winning the fight.
I am by no means justifying or applauding Haye; I think he looked poor in the opening five, and it was just a product of the low quality of the fight that he was on course for victory. He has all but confirmed that he is not fit enough or sharp enough to contend with the top heavyweights on his comeback to the sport.
Furthermore, his pre-build up talk was disgraceful, going on Soccer AM to declare that he wanted to ‘cave Bellew’s skull in’, which reflects badly on both himself and the sport. And the injury cannot come as an excuse to him, the Achilles problems pre-existed the fight, and if it was an issue, then he shouldn’t have fought, and to do so was just a product of under estimating Bellew’s ability to push him past the early rounds. Secondly, any sympathy for Haye ignores the fact that it was he who claimed he could beat Bellew with one leg and one arm and that the fight was going to be done in a round.
What can really be concluded from the fight? Well, very little except for what we already knew – that Sky and Eddie Hearn are very good at what they do. Turning average match-ups into enormous events, referring to every fight as a grudge match, and encouraging boxers to show hatred to one another for the cameras.
In the future, a rematch could be on the cards, as neither have many other options, Haye looked unrecognisable from his old self, and his injury means that he won’t be in a ring for a while, and has little right to challenge the likes of Joshua, Fury and Wilder based on that performance. Meanwhile, Bellew won’t get a fraction of the money if he drops back down to cruiserweight, whilst he evidently does not have the punch power to compete at heavyweight in the long run.
However, with the two being very ‘matey’ post-fight, a repeat would not have the same selling. The trash talk was entertaining but the actual fight being decided by an injury and pundits opting to conveniently ignore it is just frustrating, and does not reflect well on the sport of boxing. But it is not all doom and gloom in the heavyweight division. At least we can look forward to a genuine contest on the 29th April, no trash talk, just two of the best in the division coming head to head, with respect for each other and belts on the line. Joshua vs Klitschko can’t come soon enough.
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons