By Terence Dooley
Liverpool's Tony Bellew showed patience and maturity when stopping Edison Miranda in the ninth-round at London's Alexandra Palace last Saturday night. The 29-year-old light-heavyweight contender controlled the pace using his jab before sinking home a body shot that broke the Colombian's resolve, although some have argued that the 31-year-old former world middleweight title challenger elected to take the money and run.
Bellew moved to 18-1 (12) courtesy of the win. He had declared his intention to part company with former manager Frank Warren on May 21 and the BBBoC have since ruled that he is free to seek new representation. Fighting on a one-fight deal under promoter Eddie Hearn, who this week announced that the three-time ABA heavyweight titlist would appear on the undercard of Carl Froch's meeting with Yusuf Mack on November 17, Bellew was happy with the win, happy to be out yet, ever the perfectionist, believes he still has a way to go.
“I wouldn't say I made hard work of it,” said Bellew when asked about the claims that he took too long to get going. “I was happy with the end result. It was a little bit slow, but you have to get them drunk before you knock them out. I was ready to go, there was things going on away from the camp that people don't know about and don't see, but nothing fazes me – I just go out there to do my job.
“I can't go in there and blast everyone out. I remember (Lennox) Lewis having fights against guys like David Tua, where you have to be patient, and I did knock the guy out, so you have to be patient to get the result you predicted. I said I'd stop Miranda, but I am a lot better than I showed on Saturday night.”
Known as the “Bomber” and not shy when it comes to getting into a fight, Bellew has elected to stand his ground in the past when caught with big shots, most notably when hitting the deck twice against Ovil McKenzie in December 2010 before winning via an eighth-round stoppage. Once or twice during Saturday's fight he got clipped on the chin and it looked for a moment that he was going to revert to type only to remember the gameplan.
“That's exactly how it worked out,” he said. “I took a left hook in the second round, bit on my gumshield and got ready to go to war, but I heard the corner say, 'Don't you fucking dare', so that's when I realised that I had to box, show patience and I'd get him. It is not amateur boxing, where someone scores a point on you and you want to get one back straight away. It is about being patient, taking your time and the result comes in the end.
“I think the jabs sickened him, probably broke his nose, and when I hit someone with a jab it is not just a normal jab, it is a stiffening jab. It does a job on people and is a confidence builder. Do I think he could have carried on? Possibly. Do I think he'd have got sickeningly knocked out? Yes.
“Looking back, I'm happy, humbled and amazed by the crowd's reaction to me – it was a shock. I also saw Edison as a good guy and a human being, just like me. When I went to the dressing room, I felt for him because he came to win and after the fight I'm just a human being who is a nice guy. I hope he does well for the rest of his career.
“Edison has still got it. Dropping someone like Chad Dawson (in sparring during the build up to Dawson's loss to Andre Ward) shows that. Edison has beaten good guys, but he didn't anticipate me and I am harder to hit than people think. I come with a gameplan. It will take someone special to beat me at light-heavyweight.”
Now active again after fears that his career would stall due to the decision to leave Warren, the 6' 21½'' boxer-puncher believes that the best is yet to come. “Without doubt,” he said. “I've got a place on a big show next and have always wanted to be busy. I'm just glad that I've got someone like Eddie Hearn, who thinks like me. I don't need to rest as a fighter unless I get a nasty injury. I should be fighting 4, 5 or 6 times a year against good names.”
Speaking of Warren, Bellew was stunned when he saw his former manager's recent interview with Kugan Cassius of iFILM London, in which Warren dismissed his former charge as an 'ingrate', and has vowed to stand his ground. “I won't back down because there's lies being spoken,” said Bellew. “Call me what you want, say what you want, the fact of the matter is that I'm speaking the truth. I've never been offered a rematch (with Nathan Cleverly), show me that offer and make it public.
“It is all good saying to me, after a four-hour hearing, 'You can have what you want' – that's not offering me a rematch. They've got my address and can contact my solicitor. The only offer that was made to me was when I went to his (Warren's) office on December 22, I know the date because that is my missus's birthday, and I begged for the rematch. I told Frank he'd promised an immediate rematch if it was close and – and I've got witnesses to this – I was told: 'He (Cleverly) doesn't want to do it, he doesn't want to know'.”
“I'm not surprise because I'm beating him at his own game,” his take on iFILM London's interview with Warren. “No one ever stands up to Frank Warren, ever – I've stood up to him. People either go quiet or go missing. I won't do that. I won't have someone calling me. It is absolutely obnoxious for him to call me in the worst possible way. He is saying that I'm an 'ingrate'. That means I'm ungrateful. Ungrateful for what? Having my Commonwealth title stolen from me?”
Bellew went on to explain that the circumstances surrounding the relinquishment of his former belt were not instigated by him and that the title was freed up without his consent. “I didn't agree to vacate that title, that is a fact. I've got a letter that says on it that I had vacated the title, but it wasn't sent by me,” he said.
Bellew has a copy of this letter, which shows that confirmation of the decision to vacate the Commonwealth title was sent by Dean Powell – it was written on Frank Warren Promotions headed paper. A copy of Powell's letter was forwarded to Bellew by the Commonwealth Boxing Council's Secretary Simon Block on May 21 2012 – the day Bellew determined his managerial contract with Warren – and was dated November 10 2011.
In the letter, Powell, the matchmaker for Frank Warren Promotions, confirms to Block that Bellew was giving up the belt and that the now vacant title would be contested the following night by Jeff Evans and Ovill McKenzie – that fight took place live on a BoxNation show promoted by Wayne Carmichael in Halifax.
Indeed, Bellew insists he had initially been wrongly advised that he would have to vacate his Commonwealth belt before the WBO title fight with Cleverly on October 15, as per “Commonwealth title rules”. In fact, this would only have applied only if the Commonwealth Boxing Council had ordered Bellew to take part in a mandatory defence and this defence clashed with his world title challenge. In this case, and had Bellew instead decided to take part in the world title fight, he would have had to vacate his belt.
After the dust had settled on the majority decision defeat, the close reverse to Cleverly did not mean that Bellew would automatically lose his crown, either. Rule 2.10 states that: 'In the event a Champion loses a contest to another Commonwealth boxer in a contest that has not been sanctioned as a Championship contest for the weight division in which he holds the Championship, the Championship shall automatically be declared vacant except where the contest has been made at a stipulated weight above the limit for the division in which he is Champion or in a contest against a World Champion or in a World Championship contest.'
The fighter maintains that he disputed Powell's claims when the matchmaker phoned him to say he would have to vacate the belt prior to the Cleverly fight. He says that he did not explicitly state that anybody acting on his behalf could agree to give up the belt.
To this day, and despite the fact that Warren and Powell are likely to argue that Bellew agreed to vacate the title, albeit, as it turns out, for erroneous reasons, Bellew feels that his title was unfairly taken from him. “My signature should have been on that letter (confirming that the title would be vacated), not Dean Powell's and not even Frank Warren's (who was Bellew's manager at the time), my signature,” said Bellew.
“I've got proof of that and can show the whole world that letter to prove that I didn't vacate my Commonwealth title, they stole it from me. It is disgusting. I don't believe in vacating titles. I said from day one that you'd have to strip it from me. What's the point of winning titles if you have to vacate them. If anyone's been hard done by then it is me. I'm the one who waited for seven-months to get back into the ring. Why was I fighting in October then waiting until April 27 to fight again?”
Bellew is now walking his own path yet there is every sign that Warren, who is appealing against the Board's ruling that his former charge correctly determined his managerial contract, is equally determined to air his own views on the issue. For the fighter, though, the situation boils down to one thing.
He said: “I just want to fight, stay busy, and to the people who go on about how I'm scared of punchers and wary of my own chin – why would I fight guys like (Danny) McIntosh and (Edison) Miranda, two punchers, if that was the case? If I was paranoid about my chin then I'd pick a soft touch who is not known as a puncher, and there's tonnes of them, but I went for Miranda, and everyone knows that the last thing you lose is your punch. I just want to move on. Fight someone above me in the rankings, not below me, and I want to fight number two, not number 42.
“I'm past it (the argument with Warren). I'm not going to keep going on about it. I didn't have a personal problem with Frank until I saw that video, but if he wants to make it personal then I will as well, and dish it out as well. If they respond then I'll respond. I know that I’m a honest person.”
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