Haye vs Bellew: Fitness key to Haye hopes
David Haye's hopes of avenging last year's unexpected defeat by Tony Bellew, and therefore reviving his career, will ultimately be determined by his conditioning.
Anything but a convincing victory will mean he can no longer command the money he expects to fight, or appeal as a challenger to Anthony Joshua in what would attract the biggest purse he is likely to still receive.
Any hope he had against Bellew last March - and pre-fight he was the significant favourite - was ended when he ruptured his Achilles and left barely able to fight on. What that injury masked, however, was the extent to which he had tired by that point in the sixth round, and which suggested his finest chance of victory had already passed.
Haye had previously fought less than three rounds since 2012, and consequently struggled with ring-rust. A further year has passed - in addition to Saturday's fight's postponement from December after he suffered a biceps injury - since then.
That tales persist that he suffered that injury while only skipping, and not after the "freak accident" he insists, also suggests he remains injury-prone. With Bellew also representing an awkward style of opponent - Haye is required to become the aggressor but he is at his best on the back foot, and clearly struggled in that role last March - he cannot again solely rely on the early stoppage he obviously previously sought.
Yet that was the Haye of 2017, under then-trainer Shane McGuigan, who has since been succeeded by Ismael Salas, the respected Cuban who appears a more natural fit.
If Salas' influence will only become clear on Saturday, Haye, 37, regardless remains the superior natural talent and, when fit, also the superior athlete. That is why he is the odds-on favourite in the Haye vs Bellew odds.
Bellew appears to have numerous advantages in his favour. He has a proven and successful relationship with his trainer Dave Coldwell, tactically has the easier task, has the confidence of last year's victory, has been far more active and by comparison is under minimal pressure - but the fewer Haye has are those that may count.
The former WBA heavyweight champion's chances will be difficult to judge unless it transpires he is finally fit, but if he is, even though he has declined, he retains enough of his once-great abilities to stop Bellew inside six rounds. If he fails to do so, it becomes the 35-year-old Bellew's fight.
Odds on 5/1 for Bellew by decision are tempting but we're going for Haye to win between rounds four and six at 7/2 as our Haye vs Bellew prediction.
Traders Tips - the view from the trading floor
From a value perspective the only bet in the bout betting market looks to be Bellew at 9/5. Haye looks quite short at 40/85 and I can see the prices coming slightly closer together as the fight nears and punters latch on to the 9/5 about Bellew confirming his previous victory as being nothing like the fluke Haye is saying it was.
We now know both fighters possess knockout power at this weight, but Bellew comes in here with the mental edge of winning their last fight and now knows the power that Haye possesses which makes the fight that much easier to approach from a range perspective and how close he can get to Haye without getting hurt.
With value in mind, the round betting/round group betting markets are where we will see most of our turnover as customers can avail of a price to keep them interested. Haye to win in rounds 1-3 (9/2) and 4-6 (7/2) will be popular as punters expect the only way Haye can win is an early KO, but the rounds 7-9 (10/1) and 10-12 (18/1) markets for a Bellew KO/TKO interest me the most. Haye is not a man that can venture into the later rounds with such gusto at this stage of his career, and if he fails to get Bellew out of the ring in the earlier rounds the tide may turn and Bellew's greater stamina and fitness will come into play for sure.
We've been happy to keep Tony Bellew onside since the re-match was booked, similarly we've been competitive about Haye's price as he has it all to prove yet again on Saturday night against the younger man.
Recommended bets: Bout betting - Tony Bellew 9/5