Sunday, March 26, 2023  |


Tony Bellew: ‘David Haye is an embarrassment to boxing’

Haye (left) and Bellew (right) to collide in a money-spinning rematch. Photo by Lawrence Lustig

I don’t know about you but, me, I find and take inspiration from wherever I can.

For instance, on Dec. 12, I was on a treadmill in a hotel gym during a business trip.

Staying at the Hilton in Florida, where the WBC Convention was taking place, I took a pause from running around and trying to secure interviews for my Everlast podcast “TALKBOX” and I hit the Hilton gym.

Eddie Hearn, the rising – no, risen – promotional star out of the U.K., came in. I grabbed him, asked him to offer a true-or-false to a Dan Rafael Tweet, which said HBO and Showtime were in a bidding battle for the April 29 Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko fight. He looked at the Tweet, which wasn’t sourced specifically, and said, “True.”

Then I did some pedaling on a bike, did some weights, then finished off with a jog. I looked to my right. On the treadmill next to me is a man running, not jogging, a big lad.

Looked a bit like WBC cruiserweight titleholder Tony Bellew. More than a bit!

I grabbed my phone, did a Google search, tried to sneakily peek at the runner. Yep, it was Bellew (28-2-1, 18 knockouts), the 34-year-old who beat BJ Flores in his last outing and will make the leap to heavyweight to tango nastily with David Haye, on March 4.

I was inspired, or maybe embarrassed, as I was huffing and puffing along at a most boxing writerly pace, at three miles-per-hour. I tapped the up arrow, to four, then five, then six m.p.h. And I did a couple laps. Never let it be said that boxing writers are averse to exercise!

So, thanks Tony!

In fact, I actually saw him that night, looking spiffy as hell as he was about to enter the gala dinner, for the 54th annual convention. I thanked him for providing me that petrol push and we chatted about his forthcoming scrap.

Bellew chuckled as I admitted I needed Google images to make sure it was him. Then we touched on Haye. “I understand some people think it’s a mismatch because he’s a former heavyweight champion and cruiserweight champion and they think he’s bigger than me. But at that first press conference, the realization has dawned on him: He’s not bigger than me. I was actually looking down on David. So, he is the guy with much more muscle; he looks the aesthetically better man but I’ll be honest. I’ve never been one who really cares aesthetically how I look. Bodies don’t win fights. Hearts, desire, balls and a willingness that’s inside of me, that’s what wins fights. I have much more of that than Haye.”

The Liverpudlian, who snagged the crown in a May tussle with Ilunga Makabu, spoke of his most recent entry to the squared circle. “I enjoyed my last fight very much, beating the clown called BJ Flores. He followed me for two years, chased me around, like some kind of leech. I said this from the start: ‘BJ, you’re a good domestic fighter on the U.S. scene but you ain’t nothin’ special. I mean, Steve Cunningham would whip BJ Flores’ ass. And Steve was one of the opponents I liked, but we just couldn’t come to an agreement…BJ came in – I will be totally honest – I took the fight because I wanted to shut him up. And according to his friend, David Haye, he went public and he said, “BJ Flores would beat Tony Bellew.” They are buddies in the nightclub; that’s about it. That’s all them guys do, two p**sies that want to party in a nightclub. They want to take boxing to a place it shouldn’t be seen. Boxers shouldn’t be in nightclubs. I’m a clean-living person. Listen, when the fight is over, I go and have a drink with me friends. It’s one-off occasions. This year, I’ve drunk on three occasions, my birthday, (wife Rachael’s) birthday and one of my other friends.”

The Brit hitter told me a prediction for the Haye (28-2 (26 KOs), age 36, was off between July 14, 2012 and Jan. 16, 2016) tango. “This fight depends an awful lot on the first four rounds,” said the man who debuted pro in 2007 and has won eight straight. “For me, he’s live and dangerous the first four rounds. For me, either one of us lands heavy the first four rounds, either one of us can go. I’m under no illusions. Is he going to clinch and stuff? David Haye thinks I’m going to run. I ain’t gonna run from no f**ker. The biggest regret of my whole career, I stuck to a game plan, biggest regret was Adonis Stevenson fight (in 2013, a TKO loss in six). I would never blame a coach. It rests purely on my shoulders. To blame anyone is a coward’s way out. Yes, we did have that game plan, me and the coach, at that time. But it’s me who stuck to that game plan,” he reiterated, promising to not make that mistake again and, to this time, go for the gusto, and not allow himself to be stalked and chomped.

Bellew said he will be about 205 – he’s now 225  to maybe 220 for Haye. Bellew thinks he will have a speed edge. “My plan is to be faster than him,” he told me.

“If this fight goes past four rounds, I am going to drown David Haye, physically drown him. He does not have the cardio; he does not have the timing, the longevity because he takes breaks. He wants to party; he doesn’t want to live the right life,” Bellew said. The two sparred physically at the presser and there seems to be legit dislike present. “This guys a fookin’ clown,” Bellew said. “Fookin’ p**sy, he’s an embarrassment to boxing,” he continued, noting that Haye did well to fight through pain against Nikolay Valuev (in 2009) but then squandered that capital with his showing against Wladimir Klitschko (in 2011). “When you speak about this guy, he’s a joke, he really is.”

Yeah, the beef was real, he said. “I pushed him because he got too close to me. He was on the verge of kissing me and I told him it ain’t that kinda party. He took a cheap shot; he’s a coward. He took a cheap shot because he was intimidated. When I got up closer, he didn’t like I was bigger than he anticipated. And I put it on him. I meant business.”

Bellew said they can fit 20,000 in that O2 Arena; the joint is sold out and it will be pay-per-view, which will cost about $25.

He saw some of his idols, including Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Riddick Bowe, who attended the convention, so we parted after the chat.

That Bellew vs. Haye scrap, it’s yet more proof that the Brit fans are rabid and reliable. Maybe our boxing fans here can take some inspiration and step up our games.

Friends, you all thinking Haye is too big and strong for Bellew? Or can Liverpool Tony continue as unlikely ladder climb, from light heavy to cruiser to heavyweight?




No fighter tries kissing Michael Woods and gets away with it. He doesn’t host those kinds of parties. That said, there ain’t no party like a Michael Woods party because a Michael Woods party don’t stop. That is, of course, unless he gets way too tired on that treadmill. Then forget it. He’s done for the day.



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