By Terence Dooley
News of Juergen Braehmer's decision not to travel to London for his WBO light-heavyweight title defence against Nathan Cleverly due to a eye injury has sparked an anxious wait for British boxing fans hoping to see Tony 'Bomber' Bellew step into the German's boots at the O2 Arena on Saturday night. The British showdown is widely rumoured but has not been officially confirmed by Frank Warren.
Bellew spoke to me earlier today, revealing that he was 6½lbs away from the weight limit after a 5.30am run, which most fans assumed to be more than enough to ensure that the 28-year-old, WBO number 14 ranked fighter would be able to contest the organisation's title should it be declared vacant.
Title fights on British soil, however, are subject to check weigh ins. The BBBoC test the weight of the fighters on a regular basis to ensure that they are not rapidly shifting, known as “crashing”, the pounds at the eleventh hour. Bellew, therefore, would be subject to a check weigh in – it is my assumption that this sanction has been applied.
Bellew could have conceivably hit the magic figure earlier this evening. There would presumably be another test in the morning to ensure that the 15-0 (10) boxer has not crashed the weight and consequently cannot maintain it overnight.
Boxers who lose weight rapidly tend to throw it back on after hitting the scales. James Toney was rumoured to have dropped a stone in the space of a few days before getting to 167lb for his fight with Roy Jones Junior in 1994. 'Light's Out' hit the pasta and looked lethargic come first bell after overnight weight fluctuations. Boxers who lose it gradually tend to stay closer to their division limit ahead of the bout and can safely shave the lbs away to hit the scales in optimum shape.
Consider, Bellew was in training for a July 16th rematch with Ovill McKenzie, Tony's first fight since December. He switched his training camp from Manchester to Liverpool at the turn of the year, and will have ticked over prior to the announcement of the McKenzie bout in order to come down in weight ahead of schedule. Ensuring that his ballast is stable ahead of the crucial weeks of fine tuning required for his first outing in six months.
Tony, unlike t'other Toney, could have been two stone away from the division's 175lb limit as recently as two weeks ago and then opted to drop 2lbs a day per day in order to get to within touching distance of the weight, which would be a good move given Braehmer's staccato recent schedule. Leaving Tony in the position where a dose of professional could see him get to within 7lbs of 175lb this close to Cleverly's proposed fight.
Fighters often go into training camps well above their fighting limit yet it soon starts to slide away as they clean up their diet and begin training. Kerry Kayes, famous for bringing Ricky Hatton's weight down during his light-welterweight title reign, once told me that, “When you clean your diet up you will lose, six, seven pounds of fluid so in the first two weeks of dieting you can easily lose ten to fourteen pounds.”
Bellew is a student of the sport, he also knows Kerry and no doubt has picked up one or two tips from the nutritionist over the years, giving him the opportunity of coming in for a further check on schedule and with a fighting chance of netting the Cleverly fight. As it stands, the mooted bout is on the scales, but if Bellew does get the nod then it will a testament to the virtues of living the life.
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