by Cliff Rold
Maybe it’s time to stop underestimating Tony Bellew.
Unbeaten since a 2013 stoppage loss to Adonis Stevenson at light heavyweight, a bigger Bellew has been a better one. The quality wins are adding up first at cruiserweight and now heavyweight. He’s avenged his first career loss to Nathan Cleverly, won a belt at 200 lbs., and has now stopped David Haye twice.
The first time, it was fair to wonder if an Achilles injury did more for Bellew than his own fists. There was no doubt this time. Haye’s history of injuries has surely taken a toll but on Saturday the bottom line was simple.
In 2018, Tony Bellew is a considerably better fighter than David Haye. Bellew isn’t as blessed in terms of God given talent. He doesn’t look as good standing still. That’s not what matters in the ring. He’s developed his craft, worked like hell, and made the most of every one of now ten wins in a row.
The first Haye fight looked like a cash out. Instead, Bellew has cashed in an put himself in a great spot to keep making big fights and big money.
Let’s get into it.
The Future for Bellew: Winning has its benefits. Bellew is in position to challenge for titles in two classes. If he opts for the class he probably is best served in, he’s now a hugely viable option to the winner of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament. Whether that winner is Oleksandr Usyk or Murat Gassiev, whether it happens for the title there or as a heavyweight debut for the tournament winner, it’s a money fight. Bellew, though he’s said he’s not interested, could also be a good option for Deontay Wilder to build heat in the UK market if he can’t get straight to Anthony Joshua (and this is no endorsement; we need Joshua-Wilder sooner than later). Tyson Fury could also be a huge payday and Bellew called for ‘retired’ former light heavyweight champion Andre Ward. Bellew would be an underdog in any of those fights but so what? He was an underdog both times against Haye. At 35, Bellew is in the best position to earn that he’s ever been in and he hasn’t shown up to do anything but win yet. Eventually he won’t but as long as he keeps fighting the way he has on this run, he’s a worth looking forward to.
The Future for Haye: At 37, the former unified and lineal cruiserweight champion who added a belt at heavyweight is long gone. His comeback, after being out of the ring from 2012-16, is off the rails. If this isn’t the end, one would have to wonder what would spur Haye to continue. A fighter who never really developed a refined skill set, Haye was a thrilling combination of speed and power at one time. His explosiveness and gift of gab made him a star. He went quietly in the biggest fight of his career (Wladimir Klitschko) but the overall picture was positive. He won some big fights, made a mint, and showed in his last two fights just how much heart he had when his A-game wasn’t there. That might not have been a Hall of Fame career but it was a damn good one and fun to watch along the way. If he’s done, a tip of the cap to the Hayemaker.
Rold Picks 2018: 14-7 (Including Golovkin-Martirosyan)
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]