Tony Bellew ponders Wilder and Parker options
Tired of reading about Anthony Joshua’s stunning victory over Wladimir Klitschko? Probably not, but there’s another British star who could be heading into heavyweight title territory in the very near future.
Tony Bellew, coming off a huge victory over former WBA heavyweight titleholder David Haye, is a very hot property. The 34-year-old boxer-puncher still maintains status as WBC cruiserweight titleholder “Emeritus”, however, due to the Haye triumph, and his soaring market value, the big boys are now paying him serious attention.
Promoter Lou DiBella recently told Sky Sports in the U.K. that Bellew was an “interesting” opponent choice for (WBC heavyweight titleholder) Deontay Wilder.
“I’m a bit more than just interesting,” countered Bellew when interviewed by RingTV.com. “I’m 1-0 as a heavyweight and Wilder is 38-0. I have a better win on my heavyweight resume after one fight than he’s had after 38 fights. I’m not blowing smoke, that is just fact.
“Look at Deontay’s last four opponents (Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka, Chris Arreola and Gerald Washington). I’m sure that my last four opponents (Mateusz Masternak, Ilunga Makabu, BJ Flores and David Haye) would beat his last four.
Bellew continued, “Take away Bermane Stiverne and (Wilder) has fought absolutely nobody. He has one of the most padded records of any heavyweight I’ve ever seen.”
I’ve spoken to Bellew twice since the Haye fight on March 4. The first time his contentment was visceral and the possibility of retirement loomed. On this occasion, however, having just completed his first boxing workout since breaking his right hand against Haye, the Liverpool man sounded thirsty for combat.
“I punched for the very first time today,” confirmed Bellew. “I hit pads for the first time, so I’m on my way back. I’m punching again and I’m happy with where I’m at. It’s been a long time coming and I’m just looking to the future now. I could fight once or twice by the end of this year.
“I have options and Deontay is one of them. (WBO titleholder) Joseph Parker’s people have also been in touch and he wants to come over here and do it. I’m not going to commit to any of them at the moment though. I’ll weigh-up all my options and go from there.”
Bellew would be a prohibitive underdog against Wilder and Parker (who defends against Razvan Cojanu on Saturday) but he couldn’t care less. The Englishman stopped Ilunga Makabu against the odds to become the WBC cruiserweight titleholder. And while Haye suffered a severe injury to his Achilles tendon midway through that fight, Bellew was supposed to be knocked out long before that happened. He stopped Haye in 11.
One gets the feeling that Bellew would relish being tagged as the “horizontal British heavyweight” during the buildup to any world title opportunity.
That was the old axiom reserved for world title challengers from the U.K. who persistently fell short when it mattered most. After Bob Fitzsimmons’ reign, Welshman Tommy Farr had pushed Joe Louis with a game effort, but the likes of Don Cockell, Brian London, Henry Cooper, Joe Bugner and Richard Dunn didn’t come close to claiming the richest prize in sports. For many fight fans, the world over, a British heavyweight was doomed to failure.
Frank Bruno, Lennox Lewis, Henry Akinwande and Haye finally stopped the rot, and today’s generation headed by Joshua, Tyson Fury (if he gets re-licensed), Bellew, and wildcard Dillian Whyte, look set to cause turbulence within the glamour division for a long time to come.
On Saturday, Joshua defeated the legendary Klitschko in what will forever be remembered as a classic heavyweight title duel. Bellew was ringside and, as a self-confessed boxing historian, is well-qualified to judge the quality of what we saw.
“It was a great fight,” said Bellew, who is friends with Joshua. “Two soldiers going at it from start to finish and it was fantastic for the sport. That was the best Klitschko I’ve seen since he thrashed (Alexander) Povetkin and (Kubrat) Pulev (in 2013 and 2014 respectively).
“All the questions that were asked about Anthony were answered. All of them. I thought the fight was risky and I said that if it went over four rounds, I wasn’t sure if he had the experience to deal with it. He proved me wrong. It just shows what the months of preparation in the gym has done for him. That was the best heavyweight championship fight we’ve seen in well over a decade.”
Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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