David Haye might have been the bigger man, but his huge frame collapsed before our very eyes, as Tony Bellew pummelled him to an 11th round victory.
Haye was left crippled in the sixth round with an Achilles injury, but he proved Bellew wrong by not quitting, as he wanted to go the whole 12 rounds.
The WBC cruiserweight champion was ruthless even though Haye was injured and didn’t let off until the towel was thrown in to save his rival in the 11th round.
From the first round it was a flurry of punches, with Bellew getting the better if it, landing left hooks to remind Haye he was facing a different opponent.
Dave Coldwell kept bellowing at Bellew, “He can’t out-box you” and “He’s too slow” as the Liverpudlian avoided punches from the Londoner.
In the second round, calmer heads prevailed, as both boxers were cautious in facing themselves. The third round passed and so did Haye’s promise of a swift end, the fourth round saw Bellew hit with a right hook that rocked him, but he stood his ground and held his head.
Haye cut Bellew in the fifth round, though he was not notably hurt, the fifth round passed without signs of the Achilles injury.
The sixth round told a different story, as Haye buckled and swung in desperation. Bellew unloaded on the former two-weight champion and they both went down. The referee didn’t rule any knockdown, until Haye tried to stand, but fell again. With a sullen look on his face, he tried again and survived, not giving Bellew the satisfaction of making him quit.
Haye was target practice for Bellew in the seventh round and the Londoner had no balance as he needed the ropes to steady himself, Bellew extended the torture, despite Haye gritting his teeth every time he put his weight on his right foot.
However, Haye refused to quit and both boxers exchanged respect in the ninth round.
An 11th-round left hook sent Haye toppling backwards, through the ropes, and it was an alarming feeble attempt to clamber back. Shane McGuigan, his trainer, threw the towel in.
There was no mention of the injury that swung the result, unlike in Haye’s 2011 defeat to Wladimir Klitschko. He raised the victor’s hand and the embrace was as genuine as the pre-fight jibes.