The British Boxing Board of Control is willing to accept David Haye's "categorical" denial he bet on himself to stop Audley Harrison in the third round of Saturday's WBA heavyweight title fight.
The Londoner made the boast he and his friends and family had made money from gambling in the immediate aftermath of the farcical destruction of hapless Harrison in Manchester. He clarified those claims yesterday by saying he did not place a bet on himself, directly or indirectly – while Board secretary Robert Smith accepted his version of events.
Haye said: "I didn't physically go into a betting shop and say, 'Here's x amount of money'. What I did say was say I would knock Audley out in three rounds. If he came out earlier I would have knocked him out earlier. My prediction was the third round and I told a lot of people that.
"There was no online betting. It did feel like I'd bet on myself because a lot of people had put money on it, family members and what not."
Haye also denied having bets placed on his behalf, adding: "I don't need to. I made enough money from the fight anyway. I don't need to earn extra money, but I told a lot of people around me. It makes the fight a little more exciting for people."
Smith, ringside for the fight at the MEN Arena, said: "David himself has denied it. He has denied he put any money on himself. He predicted the round and obviously people can listen to his prediction but he has denied he physically got anybody or he himself went and put a bet on himself. We have a regulation in place that does not allow anybody to bet on a contest they are taking part in. So if he admitted it, he would have been in breach of that regulation. But he has denied it quite categorically."
Smith also played down the suggestion Haye deliberately did not try fully in the first two rounds in order to match his prediction.
"I don't think so," he said. "I was at the fight and both of them were scared to get beaten, I think, in the first round. It's a bit like a football match. I was at Cardiff City v Swansea last week and they were [both] petrified of losing.
"I watched it again last night and although it wasn't the best first round I've ever seen, I can understand where they were coming from. But when David did open up, the man was hurt. He didn't fall down and he got up to fight again. I'm satisfied there was nothing untoward going on."
Smith confirmed the board will scrutinise Harrison's pathetic performance but believes it would be "extremely harsh" to deny him his purse. "We'll consider the reports," said Smith, himself a former fighter. "We have powers to withhold the money of any boxer we do not think has given 100 per cent. I spent time with Audley on the day of the weigh-in, at the rules meeting and during the course of the day and I'm of the opinion he was convinced he was going to win. I think it would be extremely harsh to withhold money from him. However, the board will look at it when all the reports come in."
Harrison said in a statement that he does not know where he goes from here in boxing.He said: "To my family, my team and the fans who got behind me on this journey to overthrow David Haye and become heavyweight champion, I'm sorry I was unable to walk through the door and fulfil my destiny. I can promise I cut no corners in training and did all I could do in getting myself ready both physically and mentally for Saturday's fight."