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‘He underestimated me’: Underdog Tony Bellew stuns David Haye in heavyweight clash

Haye, hindered by an ankle injury for much of the fight, was knocked down for a second time and sent crashing through the ropes in the penultimate round, prompting his corner to throw in the towel.
Britain's Tony Bellew, right, and his countryman David Haye exchange their punches during their heavyweight contest at the O2 Arena in London Saturday, March 4, 2017. Bellew knocked out Haye in the 11th round. Nick Potts / PA
Britain's Tony Bellew, right, and his countryman David Haye exchange their punches during their heavyweight contest at the O2 Arena in London Saturday, March 4, 2017. Bellew knocked out Haye in the 11th round. Nick Potts / PA

LONDON // Underdog Tony Bellew stopped former WBA Heavyweight champion David Haye in the 11th round of their thrilling clash at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday.

Haye, hindered by an ankle injury for much of the fight, was knocked down for a second time and sent crashing through the ropes in the penultimate round, prompting his corner to throw in the towel.

The build-up to the fight had been marked by intense news conferences and heated trash-talk between the British fighters, but after Saturday’s fight they quickly put the animosity aside.

“In my eyes I’ve beaten the best cruiserweight this country has ever produced and one of the best heavyweights,” Bellew told Radio 5 live.

“He made the same mistake everybody else does. He underestimated me. Watch me on tape and I’m terrible but in the ring I’m harder to hit than you think.”

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Bellew, 34, had moved up from cruiserweight to face Haye, whose previous fight was last May against Swiss Arnold Gjergjaj.

Before Saturday, Londoner Haye had fought just three times since losing a heavyweight unification bout to Wladimir Klitschko in 2011.

Haye, who has 28 wins from 31 bouts, said his opponent fully deserved the victory but wanted a rematch.

“I would love to do it again, I have never been in a fight like that,” he said. “If the fans want to see it again I would do it again.

“We’ll do it on his terms, in his town – he deserves it.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn, however, said Liverpudlian Bellew (29-2-1) would look for a title shot.

“We’ve got to go after a heavyweight world title for Bellew now,” he said. “He is everything you would want in a man, he has a big heart, never gives up, has a wonderful family and I am so happy for him.”

Hearn believes Bellew’s future is now at heavyweight and is confident of making home fights against either American Wilder, the WBC champion, or New Zealand’s WBO title-holder Parker, who defends his title against Briton Hughie Fury on May 6.

“He’s just beaten one of the best heavyweights in the world so do you want to go back down to cruiserweight or fight Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker?” Hearn said at a press conference after the fight.

“I think we could bring Wilder of Parker to the UK. This fight has done great numbers and they aren’t going to get that money anywhere else.

“He’s beaten one of the best heavyweights in the world, so as far as I’m concerned he’s earned his shot.”

But Bellew insisted he had not decided on his next move, which included the option of a rematch against Haye in Liverpool, possibly at his beloved Everton football club’s ground, Goodison Park.

“We’ll evaluate everything on Monday morning, but the salt and pepper are on my side of the table next time,” said Bellew, who seemed to rule out an immediate return to cruiserweight.

“I’ve just come down to his back yard, now he can come to mine.”

From the sixth round, Haye was left dragging his injured right foot behind him and was an easy target for Bellew, who showed no mercy, flooring him in the seventh and then sending him crashing through the ropes in the 11th prompting trainer Shane McGuigan to throw in the towel.

After the fight, Haye went to hospital for treatment on his injured ankle.

“The biggest one-punching heavyweight couldn’t put a dent in me,” Bellew said.

“Just before the stoppage I said to David ‘stop now’, because I’m not here to hurt people. I looked at [Haye’s trainer] Shane McGuigan and said ‘stop it’.

“He has got a great chin and took right hands all night long but he didn’t see the left hook and it made him collapse through the ropes.”

Haye had threatened to “hospitalise” Bellew amid a series of pre-fight comments and had promised to end his British rival’s career.

“I did not expect him to have the chin and the durability that he has,” said Haye after the fight.

“Bellew, by far, was the better fighter tonight. I believe I’m more gifted but he had a bigger heart tonight.

“He took my best shots, got back up, and put me down. I’m at his mercy – I can’t think of world titles now.”

Haye last held a world championship heavyweight belt in 2011.

The Londoner had hoped for a win to set up a shot at the winner of Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, who meet at Wembley Stadium in London for the IBF and WBA world titles on April 29.

Keith Thurman beats Danny Garcia to unify welterweight division

NEW YORK // WBA champion Keith Thurman defeated Danny Garcia by a split decision Saturday night to claim the WBC Welterweight belt in a unification clash between a pair of unbeaten champions.

Thurman successfully defended his title for the third time, winning a tactical defensive struggle by scores of 116-112, and 115-113 on two of the judges’ scorecards. The other judge had it 115-113 for Garcia.

Saturday’s matchup between the 28-year-old Americans was only the third time in history that two undefeated fighters fought to unify welterweight world titles and the first since Oscar de la Hoya faced Felix Trinidad in 1999.

Thurman is the first fighter in the division to hold multiple titles since Floyd Mayweather Jr held the WBA, WBC and WBO belts after defeating Manny Pacquiao in 2015.

There were no knockdowns as the 12-round fight at the Barclays Center turned into a strategic battle.

Thurman was the aggressor, scoring early then staying out of trouble in the final rounds for the victory.

Garcia went long moments without throwing a punch, seemingly content to wait for Thurman to attack then try to counter, but Thurman always seem to land one or two good punches in the closing seconds of each round.

* Agencies

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Updated: March 5, 2017 04:00 AM

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