David Haye has one eye on world title fight with Anthony Joshua or Wladimir Klitschko ahead of ‘fun’ Tony Bellew bout


For David Haye, this heated week of boxing hype is about unfinished business as well as show-business.

The build-up to Haye’s heavyweight grudge match against Tony Bellew on Saturday has been a frantic four-letter circus of insults, barbs and taunts.

Beyond the bear-pit of hard-selling bitterness, however, Haye insists there is a genuine longer-term plan to regain the world heavyweight title.

He coolly described the non-title heavyweight meeting with WBC cruiserweight champion Bellew as "a fun fight," which he will end quickly.

The bigger aim, he insists is to seek the fulfilment he feels he let slip by in his flickering reign as the WBA heavyweight champion between 2009 and 2011, which was ended in humbling fashion by Wladimir Klitschko.

"It didn’t happen how I wanted back then," said Haye, 36. "This time around I will get it right.

"I just don’t believe I’ve yet shown my full potential as a heavyweight.

"If I had won that fight against Klitschko, it would have proved my point that I was the best heavyweight in the world at that point.

"I lost. So I wasn’t. Second best isn’t good enough.

"If I had won in Hamburg, there would have been nothing more to do or to prove – and I would have done that before the age of 31 like I always said I would.

"I came close. I rushed to get that Klitschko fight before my 31st birthday. I really wanted to achieve everything.

"Instead, I’ve learned from the experience.

"So now, this is just a fun fight against Bellew with my aim to go and win back the heavyweight title, perhaps from Anthony Joshua.

"But if the worst happens and Klitschko somehow gets a win against AJ, he’ll be the guy to go after.

"It isn’t going to be handed to me on a plate. I will have to manoeuvre my way in.

"But remember, I was world cruiserweight champion in 2007 before AJ even started boxing.

"I fulfilled myself at cruiserweight and unified the belts.

"Now I believe I’m good enough to do that at heavyweight. I just need the opportunity to do it.

"With my skillset and my physical capabilities now, I will get it right next time and take the opportunity to make my point."

It is Haye’s WBC cruiserweight title win against Jean-Marc Mormeck in the Frenchman’s home city of Paris in 2007 which remains his most epic victory.

He added the WBO belt when he knocked out Enzo Maccarinelli the following year before stepping up to heavyweight.

Bermondsey’s Haye then tactically outfoxed the lumbering six feet nine inches giant Nikolai Valuev to win the WBA belt in 2009.

It was a striking achievement against such a huge man. But Haye’s heavyweight reign was stuttering and ponderous, with victories against an ageing John Ruiz and the hapless Audley Harrison before his defeat by Klitschko – who meets Joshua at Wembley Stadium on April 29.

Liverpool’s Bellew, 34, won the cruiserweight belt against Ilungu Makabu at Goodison Park last May and defended successfully against BJ Flores in October.

Haye may, in fact, discover that Joshua's attentions turn towards a fight with the WBC champion Deontay Wilder. Unification is 27-year-old Joshua's big target.

But an all-London date with Haye would electrify the public and could fill Wembley again.

Haye added: "I held the WBA heavyweight title, which was held by Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.

"It’s all there in the history books, even though I know I have more to do as a heavyweight. Bellew has done nothing like that.

"He is world champion although he had a lot more help getting there than I had…I had to go abroad and fight for Don King.

"I had everything against me. But he had it all laid in his home town at his own team’s football ground.

"But I’m still here at 36, fortunate that I’m still healthy and ready for another good run at the heavyweight division.

"Then in two years I will get out intact mentally and physically like Lennox Lewis, one of my biggest idols,

"He avenged his two defeats. To me he had the perfect career.

"I can’t quite get to that. But I can get close and properly fulfil my potential at heavyweight."