DEFEAT can change even David Haye. His loss to Tony Bellew in March has prompted a change of attitude. “He forced me to respect him. He came in the ring in good shape and did exactly what he said he was going to do,” Haye conceded. “I felt that he was a desperate man, willing to do anything.

“He was fighting like a desperate man needs to.”

Now Haye is the desperate man. He snapped his Achilles tendon in that fight and his career was in the balance. It still is, even though he is coming back to rematch Bellew on December 17. He needs to win this fight and as far as he is concerned he must win it in style.

He still maintains he must knock out Bellew if he is to have a future in the heavyweight division.

“The manner in which I win is more important to me,” Haye said. “If it’s not complete annihilation, I’m not the guy I believe I am.”

“Deep in my heart,” he continued, “I believe I still have it.”

And he added, “I believe my best will leave him unconscious.”

Haye insisted he had recovered from that injury and admitted he made mistakes from the start of the first contest. “I deserved to lose that fight,” he said. “I boxed like an amateur.”

David Haye

This time, he reckons, it will be different: “My legs will be under me, I’ll be flowing more.”

“Maybe I wasn’t mentally in the right place,” he considered, before stating ominously, “I rarely make the same mistake twice.”