The calculated savagery continued on Saturday night long after Wladimir Klitschko's fists had distorted David Haye's face in the sodden ring when the pair sat down for the press conference.
Haye had lost nine of the 12 rounds in the ring but he lost every second of the press conference as first Klitschko, and then his trainer Manny Steward, slowly dissected his poor performance and his excuses. It was, in many ways, more painful to watch than the fight.
Haye insisted that a broken toe, which simply refused to heal, ruined his chances and meant that he was unable to get any leverage from the foot and therefore was unable to land correctly with this right hand. Klitschko looked over at Haye and laughed.
"A broken toe? Really? It looks like a bee bit you," he said as Haye lifted his right foot onto the table at the press conference. "If you keep talking you will end up like a sore loser. A fighter, David, must never say that he has a broken toe after a defeat. It sounds like sour grapes." Haye, it has to be said, looked more like a broken man at that point.
It was a strange fight from the start with thousands of empty seats left covered in their plastic sheath because of the torrential rain, which started as drizzle in the city twelve hours before the first bell. The fight was close to being pushed back an hour in the hope that the rain would finally stop. It never did.
Klitschko, who was defending his three heavyweight championship belts for the 10th time of his second reign, immediately took the fight to Haye, pushing him back and kept him on the back foot and swinging wildly out of range for two clear rounds. Haye failed to read the pulsating jab of his opponent from the first bell and never found a way to avoid it or counter with power. The fight's progress was a depressing ritual to watch as Haye's heavyweight limitations were exposed slowly round by round.
"We expected David to be more aggressive," Steward said. "The fight was much easier for Wladimir than we expected. David helped us by doing exactly what we wanted; he threw his right and missed and he threw two punches and fell off balance. That was an easy night for Wladimir." Haye, wearing shades just ten feet away, had to just sit through the criticism; it was a long way from the happy days of predicting a knock-out and wearing a t-shirt with a picture of him holding up Wladimir's severed head.
"David, tonight you are now in the place where you deserve to be," continued Wladimir, who translated his own answers and delivered each in English, German and Ukrainian. "I have to say now the truth; the t-shirt pissed me off, it was below the line, but I love you and hate you because it made me win."
The fight had slipped away by about round seven; a round in which the referee deducted a point from Klitschko for repeatedly pushing Haye to the canvas. Haye's lunges had failed, his jabs were blocked like a man wiping away a putrid smell and his face was starting to swell.
However, it has to be said that he never turned away from the full powered punches that Klitschko landed and from my privileged third-row seat it was possible to glimpse the white of his gumshield whenever he was caught flush. He was hurt often enough but he dug his toes into the white canvas, bit on the shield and threw something wild in Klitschko's direction. "I kept trying, I was not going to quit like so many of Wladimir's opponents have done," insisted Haye.
"After five or six rounds he couldn't do what I was asking of him," said Adam Booth, who has quite brilliantly guided Haye from cruiserweight titles to heavyweight world title and a fight of Saturday's importance, magnitude and cash. "That is the first time that he's not been able to respond to me in the corner. That's worrying, not an excuse, just a fact."
During the last few rounds Klitschko was forced on several occasions to hold when one of Haye's rights did connect. However, his easy lead behind the simple jab, his presence and his experience made the fight look like a mismatch at times. Haye was poor and, having known him for a long time, it is painfully clear that he is aware of the distance between his words and his punches.
"I will sit down and take a look at just how bad I was and then make some decisions,' admitted Haye, who had planned to retire by his 31st birthday on October 13th this year. "I don't want to finish on a loss." There is, however, a problem in cash expectations for his next fight compared to cash reality. Haye could make as much as £15m pounds from Saturday's fight and it is impossible to imagine an immediate fight that would generate 10 per cent of that total.
"I would love a rematch because I was not at my best but I don't think that will happen," continued Haye. A few people chuckled, but not Klitschko. "A rematch? Really? I never thought that I would hear those words from you. I hope your toe is better, but I would knock you out next time." All three judges scored heavily in Klitschko's favour.
Haye tried to defend himself but his microphone was off and the conference was at an end. He was trying, about two hours too late, to compliment Klitschko. "The toe is not an excuse. I lost to the better man," I heard Haye say. It was too little, much too late and Klitschko had disappeared behind a wall of celebratory German journalists. At that point, with the clock a minute or so before 3am, Booth steered his boxer away and into an uncertain future.Reuse content