David Haye has been forced to withdraw from his highly-anticipated rematch with bitter rival Tony Bellew through injury.
Haye was stopped by Bellew in an enthralling and dramatic contest back in March at London’s O2 Arena. The fight was nip and tuck in the early rounds, with a composed, selective Bellew perhaps getting the better of things against a wild and slightly uncultured Haye. In the sixth, however, Haye sustained a serious Achilles injury that wreaked havoc with his equilibrium and the hobbled former WBA heavyweight champion was lucky to see out the remainder of the round in the face of a subsequent, furious assault from Bellew.
Despite being badly handicapped by the injury, Haye showed tremendous courage in the rounds that followed, not just surviving but desperately launching bomb after bomb at Bellew in an attempt to turn the tide. This could only go on for so long though, and Bellew eventually finished the fight in the 11th, knocking Haye through the ropes and forcing trainer Shane McGuigan to throw in the towel.
Haye required surgery to repair the damage done to his Achilles in the fight and months of rehabilitation followed, but ‘The Hayemaker’ was confident that the problems were behind him when a rematch between he and Bellew was signed back in September.
In recent weeks, however, rumours began to swirl that Haye had aggravated the Achilles injury and that the fight, which was scheduled for December 17th at the O2, was in jeopardy.
Bellew’s promoter Eddie Hearn was quick to deny that there was any truth to these murmurings.
Today, however, it emerged that Haye is injured and the fight has been called off. But in a slight twist, it’s a bicep injury that has befallen the Londoner and scuppered the contest, not a further problem with his troublesome Achilles.
ESPN’s Dan Rafael was first to report the news.
Haye has since released the following statement.
“I am devastated to announce my much-anticipated rematch against Tony Bellew has been postponed until March 24th or May 5th 2018, subject to scheduling,” said the boxer(via Sky Sports).
“Despite the recent injury rumours, I was in perfect condition with an incredibly strong training camp, currently weighing lighter than I have for more than five years, I couldn’t wait to get back in the ring. I was ready to rewrite the ending of the Haye Bellew saga.
“Unfortunately, after a freak accident during a stair conditioning session, which I’ve done hundreds of times before, I lost my footing, slipped and instinctively grabbed the bannister to stop myself falling down the stairwell and in doing so managed to damage my bicep.
“This afternoon I underwent a procedure to repair it, this was pretty straightforward and my doctor and physiotherapist have no doubt that not only will I make a full recovery but will be able to be back in the gym to start my arm rehabilitation in two weeks.
“I would like to apologise to Tony, and everyone at Team Bellew, as well as all our fans who have been left disappointed. I’ve been solely focussed on this fight and it’s extremely frustrating that I couldn’t finish 2017 with just my ring performance doing the talking. I look forward to getting back to training and into the ring in early 2018 with excitement and determination.”
Bellew has also issued a response to the news.
“I’m gutted that the rematch with David has been postponed, both for myself but more for the fans,” said Bellew. “I’ve had a tough camp with a lot going on in my life but was ready to repeat my win from March.”
“I’ll get over this disappointment over Christmas with my family and will be straight back into camp for a new date, it’s a big disappointment but as always I leave my career in the hands of Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing who will get me back in there ASAP.”