DAVID HAYE has admitted that he finds Tony Bellew “grating” ahead of their December 17 clash – and allowed the Liverpudlian to get under his skin in the first fight.
The Hayemaker was heavy favourite when the pair met at the O2 Arena in March, but was shocked by Bellew and saw his corner throw in the towel.
The 36-year-old, who still has aspirations to win a heavyweight strap, reckons he has learned his lesson from that loss.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Haye was asked if he ‘liked’ Bellew.
He replied: “Not that much. He’s not my type of guy.
“If we weren’t boxers, in the same sport… he’s not the type of guy… he’s not like any of my mates.
“I don’t have any mates who have that same vibe that he brings. I’m sure to his buddies he’s a great guy.
“But different people are attracted to different people and there’s nothing I hear him say or do that makes me think ‘I’d like to spend some time with him’ or hear him yapping in my ear.”
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Both Haye and Bellew were criticised in the build-up to the first fight after engaging in an ugly public war of words – Haye even called Bellew’s fans “f***ing r****ds”.
Haye was fined £25,000 by the British Boxing Board of Control after telling a morning TV show that he would “cave in” Bellew’s skull.
The former heavyweight champion appeared calm and composed – and humbled – on the podium on Wednesday.
But Bellew believes it was all a front and said Haye would show his “true colours” between now and fight night.
He added that Haye is “fame-hungry” and an “ego-maniac”.
The Londoner admitted he allowed Bellew to get to him – something he’s promising not to let happen this time round.
“I believe I got too riled up in the first one, I let it become too personal,” Haye said.
“I let him get to me. I never thought I’d let any fighter get to me. Even though I was ultra-confident, he’s got a very grating personality.
“I’m not going to entertain it this time, I learned my lessons from the first fight.
“I was shouting, talking all kinds of crap.
“I wasn’t in the zone. I wasn’t in that pure fighting zone.
“I was screaming and shouting, swearing. It was a mess.”
“I don’t need to wind myself up and listen to what he’s saying.
“I don’t care what he’s saying.
“Whatever he says to me, no matter how mean or annoying it is, why should I let words affect what I do in the ring?”
Haye admits that Bellew’s wind-up merchant routine affected his strategy in March.
“Watching it back that was probably the worst I’ve seen myself.
“I’ve never been that reckless, I’ve never missed so many punches.
“Maybe he has a defence like Pernell Whitaker but he really hides it, maybe he’s Willie Pep in disguise.
“It was reckless, trying too hard.
“From the start to the finish it was horrible.”
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