Tony Bellew has told David Haye that he “loves” him in the news conference for their heavyweight boxing match.
The build-up to their first fight, which ended in an 11th-round stoppage win for Bellew, was marked by animosity and violence — but an intriguing dynamic has developed as Haye adopts a more relaxed approach to the verbal preludes to the rescheduled rematch.
Haye (28-3, 23 KOs) told the assembled media: “I’m not taking the bait this time. I can’t be bothered. I’m just going to train. I won’t allow you get into my psyche. I won’t allow it.
“I love you Tony Bellew. You’ve got a great haircut. My opinion of you has changed because you beat me.
“All that anger didn’t work for me last time. In any other sport, whether you hate someone or love someone, you want to win.”
Bellew (29-2, 19 KOs) remains unconvinced Haye will be able to sustain his newfound zen and is adamant “the real David” will reemerge over the course of the build-up.
Bellew told his 37-year-old rival: “I just hope you don’t become a Buddhist before the fight. I’m waiting for you to crack open some holy prayers. It’s just a fight.
“If it’s more than a fight, can you educate me please? It’s all geared towards a fight. I must be missing something.
“You told me I was going to be in a coma. Those were your words. Nothing has changed in his mindset from now until then. He says he’s changed his mindset but it’s b——s.
“He’s the most dangerous heavyweight in the world with one punch but that doesn’t last long and I do.”
The pair are set to clash at The O2 on May 5 in London.