DAVID HAYE insists landing a world title fight has nothing to do with rankings, but rather how much money a fighter can bring to the negotiating table.
Haye is highly ranked by numerous governing bodies but will fight WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew on March 4 in a bout that will do little for his heavyweight standing.
In fact Hughie Fury will leapfrog Haye into the WBO’s mandatory challenger spot, although the former two-weight king is well aware that market value will take him much further.
“Getting a world title fight isn’t about your ranking, it’s about how much money you bring to the table,” he said.
“This fight is the biggest grossing fight the O2 Arena has ever staged. When I fought in Manchester it was huge.
“Every time I’m in a biggish fight, this is a non-title fight, and it’s sold more tickets than Anthony Joshua’s fight.
“I know I’m the draw and I’m sure it’ll reflect in the pay-per-view numbers as well. When it comes to challenging for a world title, that’s on the table, as opposed to me just being some random guy who’s really dangerous and doesn’t bring any money to the pot. That’s always helped me throughout my career.
“I’m not concerned about what this does for my current heavyweight standing, all it will do is show this is a massive event.”
The fight has generated an enormous amount of interest and their fiery press conference last week only added to the intrigue, though Bellew is a significant underdog with the bookmakers.
While Haye acknowledges his status as favourite, he is not taking Bellew lightly – especially as blockbuster fights against the likes of Anthony Joshua potentially lie in wait.
“Tony Bellew can say what he wants but this is, by far, the biggest fight he’ll ever be involved in. He’s never even been on an undercard of something as big as this,” he continued.
“I learned that lesson many, many years ago, taking people for granted.
“Tony Bellew will come in stronger, faster and fitter than he ever has because he knows he has to. He can’t come in and get hit with shots like he did against BJ Flores because if he takes one of those, he’s a sleep. Whenever someone faces me they raise their game two or threefold.”
Bellew, originally a light-heavyweight although he did box as a heavyweight in the unpaid ranks, never appeared on Haye’s radar until he won the European cruiserweight title against Mateusz Masternak last year.
Haye allegedly tried to lure Bellew onto one of his undercards, rather than box for the European title, which apparently caused a rift between the two. The Liverpudlian went on to win the WBC world title.
Haye said: “I never considered him a potential opponent until he won the European title. When they spoke about moving to cruiserweight and fighting for the European title I wasn’t too sure how he’d do but he’s achieved his potential at cruiserweight, now he has this massive fight at heavyweight and I think it’s a step too far for him.”