AFTER a bizarre night at the O2 Arena in London, Tony Bellew’s stock has never been higher but David Haye’s career may have returned to the sidelines – and this time for good.

For five rounds, he looked to be ahead and was still trying to get his timing back – though Bellew had boxed very well up until this point – until a slip in the sixth caused serious damage to Haye’s right ankle.

Nothing has been confirmed, but reports claim it was an achilles rupture that he had immediate surgery on after the fight. If that is the case the former two-weight world champion is looking at nine months of recovery and at this stage of his career, that could be devastating.

Bellew represented Haye’s first serious challenge in many years, though David was still expected to win and most probably early. Instead, he struggled to badly hurt an inspired Bellew and after the injury came his hopes were shattered and he was stopped in the 11th when his trainer, Shane McGuigan, threw in the towel.

Haye has been riddled with injuries and his lengthy hiatus from the sport was down to a nasty shoulder problem which required extensive surgery. Another serious injury could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and Haye may decide to pack it in altogether. If he does, he would be closing the door on a glittering career which saw him prove himself the best cruiserweight to have ever come out of the UK before going on to win a world heavyweight title. Given his celebrity status in the UK there would be several avenues for him to pursue and he is a terrific analyst whenever he’s appeared on boxing broadcasts before.

After losing to Bellew, the only thing he wanted was a rematch – understandable given the enormity of the upset. Indeed, not many marketable heavyweights around will see value in facing Haye right now and he would make the most money in a return with Tony, though with the bad blood between them seemingly purged, how much interest would there be? This first fight was fascinating, grueling and absorbing but very, very odd.

Haye refused to mention the injury after the fight – perhaps fearing reprisals having learned his lesson after toe-gate – and deserves enormous credit and respect for fighting on so long essentially on one leg. He’s never been one to stick to conventional wisdom, but surely even he didn’t see this one coming.