Here is a round up of fight week quotes from both David Haye (28-2, 26 KOs) and Tony Bellew (28-2-1, 18 early), who meet at the O2 Arena live on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday night. At today’s weigh in, Haye hit 16st 9oz to Bellew’s 15st 3lbs 8oz.
“I need to prove to the world that I number one, and I’m a box office star,” said David Haye earlier this week. “The rest of the Heavyweight world will see that if they want mega-dough they need to come to me. People want to see him get destroyed. I will go out there, I will let me hands go, and he will go to sleep very, very quickly.
“I feel better now than I ever have. No-one wanted to fight me in my last two fights. I went through so many names but they didn’t want to know. I got my ranking back from it so it did the job. I don’t think he’s any tougher than the last two guys, I really don’t. Tony is tailor-made for me. If I can construct an opponent to KO easy, I’d say ‘bring me Tony Bellew’.
“It’s a shame for him but the fans will get to see what they want. I hope it doesn’t shock them how brutally he’s going to get knocked out. They’re the ones that have called for it. If it wasn’t for the public demanding the fight, then it wouldn’t be happening.
“People have started to think he’s got a chance – but once the reality dawns of my right-hand landing on his chin, it’s good night. Everyone knows what’s going to happen, he’s getting carried out of the ring. He can hit me clean on the chin with his best shot and he won’t budge me.
“After he won his European title he started screaming and shouting at me, branding me the ‘Bitch from Bermondsey’, which I thought was a bit of banter. I thought he was trying to get a bit of cheap publicity off my name, I didn’t really think he wanted to fight me. Then he had his World title fight, and credit where credit is due, he won that.
“Then he floored a good friend of mine in B.J. [Flores], who I thought would beat him but for whatever reason, he didn’t. That night he went for me, kicking the advertising in my face and giving me lots of abuse.
“So I thought to myself, OK. I had a look at social media to see what the general vibe was from the fans, and they all loved it. They were saying to me, ‘you’ve got to teach this chump a lesson’, so we made it happen.
“I just don’t think he likes me. Maybe because I’ve achieved more than him. Maybe because I generate a lot of interest, a lot of money, a lot of headlines, and he doesn’t. Maybe he’s jealous of that – that’s probably what it is.”
“He’s a trier,” said Haye. “He comes out and has a go. He doesn’t have a good defence, which is imperative if he’s looking to get out of the first round against me.
“He’s got decent punch power at Cruiserweight. Whether he brings that to Heavyweight, I don’t know. I assume he punches harder though as it would be foolish of me to think he punches worse.
“He has endurance and can fight at a reasonable pace for 12 rounds at Cruiserweight. He’s not got the highest pace but he’s done a few 12 rounders recently. He probably won’t put too much weight on above Cruiserweight in his first fight at Heavyweight, that would be stupid – but he’s a bit of an idiot. He doesn’t really have a nutritionist who knows what he’s doing. If you look at his body shape, you realise he’s not someone that takes diet and nutrition seriously.
“I’ve never really liked his personality. He sounds very passionate until it comes to the crunch, and then he falls apart. If you listen to him before every fight, he always says he’s willing to die in the ring, he’s willing to go further than any other man – blah, blah, blah.
“This fight is basically about how long he can stay awake. Can he leave the ring on his own devices or will he be stretchered from it? Those are the questions people are asking, not if he can win the fight, because I think everyone that knows anything about boxing knows he’s got no chance.”
“I’ve learned the lesson about not being complacent many years ago, about not underestimating my opponents’ abilities. I don’t do that anymore. Whether my opinion of him is that he’s not that good is irrelevant – what is important is the fact that I train the same regardless of who I am fighting, that’s what I do.
“Although I know that I am going to win, I’ve still push myself to the limit in training because it wouldn’t be good preparation for the fight after this – so I have trained like I am fighting for the World Heavyweight title.
“It’s a Heavyweight fight, there’s no benefit in coming in at Cruiserweight. I’m looking at it like I am fighting Anthony Joshua. It makes no difference to me though. I might be heavier; I might be lighter. My weight is never a measuring stick of any kind. I do my measuring by how fast I feel in the ring, my punch evasion, my reaction times and my running times. Recognizing when I am in optimum shape is done in the gym, not on the scales.
“I’m 36 but if you tally up the number of clean punches I’ve taken as a Heavyweight, it’s not many. Most fighters take that in the first round of a fight. My shoulder is rock solid now. I’m happy with how I am. It’s onwards and upwards.”
“Shane [McGuigan] has rejuvenated me,” added Haye. “I probably do three or four times as much boxing training as I used to do. In the past, it was a lot more about getting into shape to fight and my skills were what they were, and that was enough.
“Shane understands that I’m a very skilled Heavyweight – probably the most skilled on the planet if you look at punch evasion, if you look at ring generalship, clean punches received – I don’t think there’s another fighter on the planet that can slip shots like me.
“Shane wants me to improve though, he wants more from me. He wants me to be the best that I can be. He’s not sitting on his laurels. He wants me to be even better technically.
“Shane gets this business like nobody I have known. He has brought a young outlook and a youthful enthusiasm to my training and it has rubbed off on me.
“These are things I believe I’ve missed in years gone by. Even when we’re not training, we are still training – in our heads. Even when there is no fight lined up, he still wants to come to work with me and improve me. The fact that he is only 28 is a real bonus.
“He has so much energy to train that he’ll work with me at 7am or at 1am. He is there whenever I need him. He is putting so much time and energy into me and his all-knowing eye is very advanced for a man of his age. His father was an all-time great. And whenever Barry was working as a TV commentator, he would take Shane along.
“He’d watch all the fights at ringside from the first one on the undercard to the main event. He soaked it all up. So he really gets it like no one I’ve ever known.”
A fight that McGuigan wants next for Haye is Joshua. The Olympic gold medal man faces Haye’s old foe Wladimir Klitschko at a sold-out Wembley Stadium in April, and like his trainer and all British fight fans, Haye would love to square up to AJ in a mammoth fight that would bring the country to a standstill and move his closer to his goal.
“That’s the one that gets everyone excited,” said Haye. “He’s got to get past Klitschko first, but Klitschko is 41 now and hasn’t fought for nearly two years. I think it would be a fun fight, me and him. I’d like that and the fans seem to as well.
“He has a big fan base. He started boxing after I was World champion so I’ve got a bit of experience on him; a lot of experience on him. I don’t think he can make up for that.
“He has the physical advantage over me in size, and probably strength, and he’s ten years younger. So he’s got those in his favour. I think it’ll come down to boxing skills and experience. I don’t think he can make up for that. Although he’s a tremendous physical specimen, it comes down to punch evasion, what happens when I hit him on the chin, how does he react?
“When he has got caught, the one time Dillian Whyte hit him, he looks very shaky. And since that punch he’s purposefully not been in the ring with anyone that fights back. That’s not going to help him against me.
“In the time I’ve been away Anthony had his Olympic gold, his whole Heavyweight run to becoming a champion and racked up a string of knockouts. In that time, he’s introduced a lot of non-boxing fans to boxing and these people think he’s the best thing since sliced bread. It’s great that he’s got this young following.
“My fans are a bit older, a bit more seasoned, they’re not as impressed by him as he’s not fought anyone that punches back. I’d like to get in the ring with him and prove who is the best in Britain, and I think it will happen this year.
“I’d like people to recognise me at Heavyweight as ‘the man’, like they did at Cruiserweight. I had a version of the Heavyweight title but I want to be considered number one in the division.
“This is going to be the last phase of my career and I see myself as the biggest fight out there for every fighter on the planet. If Joshua wins the Klitschko fight, which I believe he will, a fight against myself would eclipse that.
“If I was to beat the winner of Joshua and Klitschko and then if Tyson Fury, fingers crossed, gets out of his depression and decides to put the gloves back on, a fight between me and him would be more than enough for people to recognize me as the best fighter on the planet.
“Once people recognize me as that, that’s mission done. It’s not like I have to aim for a specific belt. People are picking up belts left right and center, and although it’s nice to have that strap across your waist I’d like to be the lineal champion or as close as you can get.”
“I unsettle him and he hates it because I’m unpredictable,” stated Bellew. “I don’t know what I am going to do. I know one thing though – there’s only one World champion here and that’s me.
“He has to accept that I can hurt him. I said to B.J. and the same to everyone. At some stage, he’s going to hit the floor and I hope he wants it as much as me. With 10oz gloves on anything can happen.
“He could make Cruiserweight. He knows it. Whatever weight I get in the ring is fine, he’s a big Cruiserweight. It wouldn’t have happened at Cruiserweight as I’d have to give into more demands – I thought I was fighting Mariah, he’s got that many diva demands.
“He wanted to retire at 30, now look at him. He’s partying in Miami, he doesn’t want it, he’s back for the money. He doesn’t care about me; he thinks he’s going to walk in there and blow me away. I’ve had 30 odd fights and only one genuine loss, Adonis Stevenson, and he’s elite. I was poor against B.J. but it’s got me the fight I want.”
“I am going in with a fighter that is very fast, very powerful, but I think that’s just for four rounds,” said Bellew. “He’s an elite level fighter, but not the one that was able to be that quick and explosive over a fair distance. He’s a front-runner, but a brilliant front-runner. It’s like me saying he’s a one-trick pony, but it’s a hell of a trick. That right hand is a hell of a dig and if he lands on anyone early in a fight, it doesn’t matter if you are Heavyweight or Cruiserweight, you are going to sleep. It’s when his timeframe in fights passes, that’s when I feel he’s there for the taking – but it’s only words now, I must prove it tonight.
“He was conning the British public with those two fighters. His last guy was so bad he had a draw with the bag in the gym. He’s a world class fighter, he’s the best athlete besides Joshua in the Heavyweight division. Is he the best fighter? No, but he’s a great athlete. If this was a race he’d win, bench press competition he’d win, but it’s a fight.
“Tell me a top Heavyweight he’s beat? He beat a top Cruiserweight in Jean Marc Mormeck in 2007 but I’m the best Cruiserweight in the world right now so all he is doing is fighting the best in the world at his old weight.
“It makes me laugh that people think he’s going to win this easy, because I’ve always had that. People thought Makabu was going to beat me easy – to be honest, he got close in that first round, but I got up and I won. I’ve been written off many times, this is no different to any other fight, don’t let anyone fool you.
“He’s got two arms and two legs, same as anyone else. The scale from the media may be different and the public attention might be bigger, there’s a lot of outside focus on the fight, but the same rules apply in this fight as to any other.
“There are only three things that matter to me in a fight. Number one – get home safe to the wife and kids. Number two – win at all costs. Number three – nothing else matters. Doubters, critics, well-wishers, none of it matters other than those three things.
“The pressure of fighting at Goodison Park was far more stressful than this. I had been going there since I was eight years old, I’d built a dream up of fighting there since I was a kid and I did it.
“It was so hard to walk into that stadium and know that there was a ring there for me to fight for the WBC World title – I ask any football fan to imagine what that would be like. Then add to that my son being there at the only fight he’ll ever be at.
“I was expected to lose that night but a lot of people wanted me to win. The bookies thought I would lose but the will of the people wanting me to win and the need for me to win was far greater than people can imagine – a whole other level.”
“Our sport has been through enough drama and heartache recently,” said Bellew. “We had the tragic death of Mike Towell, Nick Blackwell nearly dying, Eduard Gutenechkt going into a coma – and he says the stuff he says.
“I was at the fight when Callum Smith KO’d Luke Blackledge working for BBC radio, and it was a bad one, he hit him flush and he slammed against the canvas. Luke was out cold and I was praying that he got up because Callum is a devastating puncher.
“I looked over where David was working for Sky Sports, he caught my eye, and mouthed ‘you’re going to end up like that’. At that moment, Luke wasn’t even awake. I just said to him ‘you are a scumbag, that boy is on the floor unconscious and you are saying that?’
“I want to beat David Haye but I don’t want to hurt him, I just want him to be stopped by the ref or be down for ten seconds. The things he says are so out of place, it’s wrong. I don’t want to hurt anyone, I’m a professional athlete, even though I don’t look like one, and I just want to win – but talks of stretchers is wrong, and in the Gloves Are Off he crossed the line.
“I said that I can’t wait for it to be over and that I want to get back to the family because I am content with the life I have. His response to that was ‘you’re going to hospital’. I asked him to come again, and when he repeated it we had to stop filming.
“That’s the closest to I’ve come to really wanting to give it to someone in boxing but not in the ring. I hope he goes home safe after the fight and does what he wants to do.
“I know what my priorities are, what’s important to me. I don’t think he does, I think he lives in a dream world, hanging out in Miami with celebrities over Christmas. I woke up on Christmas Day with my three beautiful kids, the only people that really rely on me in this world, the only ones that need me – so every spare minute I spend with them and every penny this horrible game makes me is going on their future.
“He came to Liverpool for the press conference and cause the controversy to drum up the pay-per-view and get more buys. If you’ve spent £20m you want to make another £20m as quickly as possible. For the last five or six years I’ve been doing fight weeks and promos for big shows, World title shows, Box Office shows and big build ups.
“He’s been hitting every nightclub in Miami and sunning himself. This is a man who said to the world he was going to retire at 30, and was financially secure enough to do it. Why is he back? He couldn’t give up the limelight, it killed him. He hated not being part of the celebrity circuit, the nightclubs, the women – and he’s lost everything because he couldn’t give it up.
“I can’t wait to give it up. When I’m done, and I’m not far from that point – there’s a few things I’d like to achieve, bonus levels in the game, but as far as my goals go, I’ve completed the game. I’ve done everything I set out to do. I’ve won. Beaten it.
“I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. I’m just focused on getting home. I don’t rest on my laurels. People have asked if I can get up for a fight after Goodison, after Flores – I will be up for it for every single fight because the same three rules apply. That’s why I drive myself in the gym and I’m dedicated, turn up day in, day out and get it done.”
“I am the first to credit people when they do something great and I’ve always said Shane McGuigan is a good coach,” said Bellew.
“McGuigan and Carl Frampton are made for each other because they’ve been together from the start and they’ve created a style and developed it so well.
“When it comes to someone like Haye, him and Adam Booth made and created a style together. They were made for each other and perfected that fantastic style to the very limit. They had a tried, tested and proven way of training and even I can’t knock it because it worked throughout his career. It seems that now he’s no longer training with Adam Booth, he is the boss.
“Someone like Shane might be a little bit in awe with someone like Haye, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion of the world, former heavyweight champion of the world, a big celebrity, so it’s not like with Frampton, when they were both learning on the job.
“He is allowing David Haye to do what he wants and at the end of the day if this wasn’t the case, why has Haye been in Miami with the fight six weeks away while his coach is in Las Vegas.
“David doesn’t respect his coach. My coach went to Texas to prepare Jamie McDonnell’s first fight with Tomoki Kameda and my fight was scheduled 11 weeks after that.
“I didn’t have to go out to Texas but once I’d hit the 12-week cycle, I’m strictly in camp. I took myself to Texas and trained every single day, and why isn’t Haye doing that?
“McGuigan said in the media, him training Haye for five weeks is enough. So be it, but he’s treating him differently to all his other fighters.
“When I am in camp, Dave has full responsibility, he says when I come and go, what I do and don’t do and between him and my fitness coach they work out a plan.
“Because it’s Tony Bellew and he thinks it’s a walk in the park and it’s OK to stay in Miami and party. While he’s been posing in the sun I am working my bits off in the cold and the dark.
“I am going in with a man who was absolutely fantastic. When he was in his prime, an immense athlete – but the tank is very, very low and it does not last very long. When the gas runs out, the big fat Scouser is going to steam through him.”