By Terence Dooley
Tony Bellew was on hand to cheer for fellow Liverpudlian light-heavyweight Tony Dodson at Bowler’s Arena, Manchester last Friday. Dodson’s challenge for Ovill McKenzie’s Commonwealth title ended in a third-round stoppage. The baton has now been handed over to Bellew, who defends his British belt against Danny McIntosh at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on April 14.
‘Bomber’ has waged a war of words with McIntosh, even going as far as accusing the Norwich-based boxer of having a ‘quit point’ during recent interviews. The 29-year-old was bullish when asked if he had over-egged the pudding by writing off the man who has threatened to ‘diminish’ Bellew come fight night.
“Danny talks a great fight, fair play to him, but he does have a quit point, most people do, and it has been found on a few occasions,” said Bellew when speaking to BoxingScene.com. “I don’t have a quit point. It is not in me to quit. Danny does and it will happen in this fight.”
McIntosh has held the English and EBU titles. He beat Thierry Karl to win the European belt in January of last year only to lose it in his maiden defence, an eighth-round reverse to Eduard Gutknecht back in May. His only other loss came in seven rounds at the fists of current WBO titlist Nathan Cleverly, who also holds a narrow decision win over Bellew. The 31-year-old brushed off Bellew’s taunts at a recent presser, but Bellew believes that the damage has been done.
“He asked me to point out a fight that he’d quit in,” recalled Bellew. “I told him that he chooses to go down, he doesn’t get put down. If you’re back flipping off the floor, as he did against Cleverly, then what the hell are you doing on the floor anyway? He had no answer for that. I think he’s gone down in fights when he shouldn’t do so I pointed that out.”
He added: “We’re totally different people. He’s the class clown and I’m very serious. My life is on the line when I fight – I’m there to hurt people and do a job.”
Bellew’s comments have led to accusations that the three-time ABA heavyweight title winner has shown a fundamental lack of respect for his opponent. The 16-1 (10) fighter shrugged off the question of whether he has taken things too far.
“Listen, I’m not saying anything that is out of order or out of context,” he insisted. “He has quit. It is simple. There is nothing wrong with being put down, there is no shame to it, but there is something wrong with going down if you don’t have to. Danny’s got balls to get in the ring and fight, but at the end of the day he has a breaking point. I’m there to test his resolve. I’m there to do damage.”
Bellew’s talk needs to be topped by a strong performance if he is to secure a rematch with Cleverly. The Welshman took a majority decision in October – scores of 116-113, 117-112 and 114-114 handing him the win and leaving Bellew crestfallen. However, the 6’ 2½’’ puncher knows he must overcome his disappointment and get back on the winning trail against McIntosh, 13-2 (7).
“I have to,” confirmed Bellew to my question of whether he needs to win in style. “But I feel like an undefeated fighter. I don’t think I lost my last fight [the defeat to Cleverly]. It was a great fight. It could have gone either way – I think I did enough. My head hits the pillow at night and I go soundly to sleep because I know I did enough to win the title. I don’t believe in giving away titles so I will defend the British (belt) and make it work for me.
“My last fight was at the Echo Arena against the kid from Wales, but one fight will not define my career. I know what I want my career to be. My mouth and actions will define that career, not a fight with some guy from Wales.”
Coldwell Boxing won the purse bid to stage the contest; Dave Coldwell dug deep into his pockets to secure Bellew’s services and has booked the Echo Arena. Although a big fan of both men, Coldwell recently told me that Bellew is a high profile name. This prompted the promoter to place his faith in the champion’s ticket selling ability.
“If anyone knows the business it is Dave Coldwell,” said Bellew. “Dave’s been around a long time, he has worked with big people and it is flattering that he thinks I am an Arena fighter – it is such a compliment. I’m over the moon that he won the purse bids because I’m getting a good payday.
“Dave has also been my friend for a long time. He always stayed strong in his belief in me even when I didn’t perform so I have always been happy about that. I will pay back a little bit of the faith he has shown in me.”
Eddie Hearn joined forces with Coldwell to secure a Sky TV spot for the contest, much to Bellew’s delight. “I’ll have a big beard for the next press conference and the media work out, but come fight night I’ll be clean shaven and HD ready for Sky,” laughed Bellew.
“Sky is a fantastic platform to showcase my skills and my talents. I just want to go out there and show people what I’m capable of. It is flattering to be called a blue chip fighter and I’ll show what a blue chip fighter can do.”
As for the fight itself, the dictates of fight hype state that there should be liberal use of the words ‘Potential war’ and ‘Evenly matched battle’ during the build-up. Still, those yet to be convinced of Bellew’s top-level potential will expect the champion to do a number on McIntosh in order to cement his position as Cleverly’s main rival.
“It won’t be a war,” declared Bellew. “Danny hasn’t got a war in him. He has five good rounds in him. Dominic Ingle is a great trainer, he’s worked with Naseem Hamed through to Kell Brook, but Dominic doesn’t live with him. Is Danny in Sheffield every day of the week? No he isn’t. I know what he does. Danny knows what he does. Can he say one hundred percent that he does everything he can do in the gym? Danny will find out what it is like to go up against a fighter who lives the lifestyle.”