Monday, May 29, 2023  |


Bellew bombs out Flores, goes wild at David Haye

Tony Bellew celebrates following his win over BJ Flores. Photo: Sky Sports Boxing
Fighters Network

Liverpool, ENGLAND – Nobody was too excited when WBC cruiserweight titleholder Tony Bellew was matched against American veteran BJ Flores. On Saturday, the monotony was realized when Flores succumbed to a throwaway third-round knockout before a capacity crowd at the Echo Arena.

And then the real fight started.

Bellew, who is rated No. 4 by THE RING at 200 pounds, decked Flores three times in Round 2 and closed the show with a destructive left hook in the third. In between knockdowns, however, the volatile Englishman visited a neutral corner to exchange barbs with former cruiserweight and heavyweight titleholder David Haye, who was ringside.

Photo courtesy of @SkySportsBoxing

Photo courtesy of @SkySportsBoxing

“I’m ruthless when I get going”, said Bellew following his victory, before targeting Haye again. “You have been conning the British public for years. Those two guys you just fought (Mark de Mori and Arnold Gjergjaj) were a joke. You picked BJ to beat me and he just got smashed. Just put the gloves on and I’ll put you and that pathetic haircut to sleep.”

Flores was an afterthought as all attention shifted to a potential U.K. pay-per-view bonanza between Bellew and Haye. The pair have been going back-and-forth for months and one only had to pay attention to the decibel levels inside the arena to know that the British public will be all for it.

Bellew was distracted and shipped a few shots against Flores but only required third gear to run over what was essentially an overmatched opponent. At his best, “The Bomber” is a much better fighter than what he showed tonight.

Photo / @SkySportsBoxing

Photo / @SkySportsBoxing

Does he have the power to handle Haye, who has been up around the 230-pound mark in two warmup bouts? That remains to be seen.

Bellew (28-2-1, 18 KOs) won the vacant WBC title with a devastating third-round knockout of hard-hitting southpaw Ilunga Makabu in May. In doing so, against the odds, he established himself as a major force at cruiserweight and injected dollar signs, or pound signs, into a division which is rarely lucrative.

Missions at 200 pounds may have to wait, however, as one got the feeling that the drumroll for Bellew-Haye has just commenced.

Bellew weighed in at 199.4 pounds with Flores at 199.3.

British southpaw Luke Campbell (15-1, 12 KOs) scored an impressive fourth-round knockout over former world title challenger Derry Mathews in a 12-round lightweight contest. The official time was 2:46.

Campbell, who won Olympic gold at London 2012, got off to a tentative start but was always looking for counter punch opportunities. The experienced Mathews had moderate success early but one always felt that he was being lured into a trap.
The fight turned in Round 3 when Campbell was awarded a knockdown, although it was clear that Mathews had merely lost his footing during an exchange.

In the fourth, however, a brutal counter left to the body dropped Mathews heavily. In crippling pain, he was beckoned to rise by a feverish home support but moments later, an identical shot from Campbell laid him out for the count.

Having lost his unbeaten record to Yvan Mendy, last December, Campbell has been rebuilding. He halted former British champion Gary Sykes in two rounds and got off the floor to outpoint former world titleholder Argenis Mendez.

Tonight’s victory added to his momentum and big fights await.

Mathews (38-11-2, 20 KOs) dropped a 12-round unanimous decision to WBO lightweight titleholder Terry Flanagan in March. Although he has fallen short at top level, the 33-year-old veteran remains one of the most popular fighters on U.K. soil.

Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing