LONDON - David Haye says he will quit boxing unless he comprehensively defeats Tony Bellew in their December rematch.
The pair of them were on their best behaviour at the media launch for their second edition and thank heavens for that after the foul-mouthed prelude to their first encounter in March.
The focus was more where it should be, on the boxing, rather than the insults. Or in Haye’s case, the possibility that this could be the last hurrah for the flamboyant Londoner.
When asked if a second defeat by Bellew would signal the end of his world championship-winning career he replied: "Definitely. And if I don’t win as emphatically as I should against this guy. If it’s a split decision, or if I have to get up from a knockdown to win, or if it’s an ugly split decision it will also be over for me.
"The truth is if I can’t annihilate this blown-up light-heavyweight then I have no business still thinking that I can become the best heavyweight in the world.
"It’s not that I don’t respect him now. He earned that in our first fight. But if I can’t knock him out then I would have no place in the ring with the big heavyweights.’
Haye is reluctant to blame Bellew’s 11th-round stoppage of him completely on the achilles tendon rupture he suffered in their first fight at London’s O2 Arena.
Bellew still tried to tickle Haye’s metaphorical ribs: "David won’t be able to keep up this act for too long. He’s so egotistical he will show his true colours at some point. And, in all honesty, as much as I have always admired him as a great boxer, I don’t much like him. I just want to put him to sleep for 10 seconds."
Haye’s response: "I’ve learned my lesson about getting riled up. I know I must get back to being calm, composed and focused on the job. I won’t allow myself to be distracted again."