Tony Bellew and David Haye will step into the ring on Saturday with a score to settle.
It’s often the case that fighters meet with scores to settle, often after a war of words in the build up. But on this occasion, they meet after their first fight ended in farce – with Bellew eventually overcoming Haye in the 11th round.
The 11th-round stoppage tells nothing of the tale that came before, as Haye ruptured his Achilles tendon earlier in the fight and it took Bellew an age to put away a man who could barely stand up.
Bellew claimed he was the rightful winner, Haye suggested he was in control of the fight until injury struck. Whoever you believe, the talking will stop on Saturday when they meet at the O2 Arena.
Some truly ugly verbal sparring in the lead up to the fight marred their first contest. The rematch has not had that level of nastiness, although Thursday’s press conference got a little tasty and boasts have been made about victory.
“Normally I look to close the show quickly but, this time, I will drag it out for as long as Tony can stand up,” Haye told Sky Sports . “He will not hear the final bell. I will break him down and stop him.
“I believe this fight goes longer than six rounds. I am looking and bringing this fight as long as it can go.”
It is a bold claim from Haye who earlier in his career earned a reputation for getting fights done quickly on account of his devastating speed and power. On this occasion, he goes into the fight with little mileage in his legs. He has fought just 14 rounds since 2012, so whether he has the stamina to take the contest deep is a matter for debate.
There is the chance Haye is playing a game of bluff, as it may be that he gets in the ring, sees the eyes of his opponent and tees off.
The animosity of the first fight is probably still bubbling just under the surface, as there is a genuine dislike for one another.
Haye was extremely reckless in the first contest and Bellew may try and bring that out in him again.
Although they are the same height at 6ft 3in, Bellew is the smaller man physically and Haye will look to bully his rival. What is in Bellew’s favour is he is an excellent tactical fighter and will look to use his ring craft to draw mistakes from Haye.
It is an excellent clash of styles and provided there is no repeat of the freak injury that spoiled the first clash, it could well be a classic encounter.