IF David Haye is injured for his rescheduled rematch with Tony Bellew, there is no plan B.

Haye has experienced a litany of injuries, from ripping his Achilles tendon during his March bout with Bellew and having to pull out of their December 17 rematch after damaging his biceps. After losing to Bellew in 2017, Haye should box the Liverpudlian again on May 5 at the O2 Arena in London. As long as he doesn’t get injured again.

“That is our worst nightmare. It’s not something we can look at and think that’s going to happen. We’re hoping that it doesn’t happen,” Bellew’s trainer Dave Coldwell told Boxing News.

There is no fall back option for the May date if Haye doesn’t make it through training camp, no replacement opponent potentially waiting in the wings. When Kubrat Pulev was injured in October, Carlos Takam was ready to leap in at short notice to fight heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua. But that situation was a rare exception.

Coldwell explained, “People say, ‘Have you got a substitute on standby?’ That’s a very, very difficult thing to do. Because you’re then saying to a fighter B get in that gym, and fighter B’s got to be a big name if he’s going to be a replacement for a pay-per-view, you’re saying to that big-name fighter, you get in that gym of yours, train, go through all your sparring, sparring costs, sparring time, training camp time, cost, diet, live well, blah, blah, blah and you might fight. It’s not really realistic, to be honest. Not at that level.”

“When you are at that level, it’s not realistic,” he continued. “Bellew against fighter X isn’t going to be pay-per-view. It’s got to be one of the top fighters around. Anthony Joshua against absolutely anybody is a pay-per-view, it’s a stadium pay-per-view fight, because people want to see Anthony Joshua. It works for him. Also anybody’s going to jump in at that kind of notice to fight Joshua because they’re not going to get paid anywhere near that kind of fee ever to fight anybody else.”

Coldwell isn’t dwelling too much on that possible predicament. In fact he is anticipating a much improved David Haye in May. “He’s had an extra six months to become a better fighter, to gel more with his coach. To absorb what his coach is teaching him and just get in better shape, generally all round. I think he’s going to be a better fighter. A much better fighter. I think he’s going to be the fighter that I expected on March 4. I expected a very good fighter on March 4. I was expecting the kind of David Haye that fought Enzo Maccarinelli, that kind of fighter. When he fought [Jean-Marc] Mormeck, people like that, he was on point, really good,” Bellew’s trainer said. “He didn’t respect Tony. Now I believe he respects him.”

The trainer had been utterly convinced that his man would spring the upset in that first fight. “In the last two days of that camp, he was really, really good, Bellew. He was phenomenal and I was really excited for the fight,” Dave said.

But Coldwell also warned that he expects a better Tony Bellew second time around. “As soon as the injury happened [to Haye], he [Tony Bellew] was crap. He threw everything at him,” Dave reasoned. “You see a fighter just fall apart in front of you, injury-wise, you’re going to think, ‘Ay ay.’ Jumped on him… He wouldn’t have boxed like a basic fighter if the injury hadn’t happened [to David Haye]. He did and that’s what happened.

david haye

“If he’d kept his composure and adapted to the injury with his composure, then he’d have got rid of him in better style, in better fashion. But he didn’t. He lost his s***, he lost his composure.”

“You have to acknowledge that that can happen, because of human emotions,” Coldwell added. “Now he’s experienced that, if that happened again in a fight, he would know how to react.”