Tony Bellew, a fighting man who deserves more credit.

Tony Bellew appears to be a man that divides opinion. Never short of something to say, and for anyone else who watches IFL TV, is always more than happy to share his views on topics ranging from capital punishment to drugs cheats. You only have to scroll to the comments section of these videos to see the mixed response they receive, with Bellew often being questioned on his remarks, and at times ridiculed by those brave ‘keyboard warriors’.

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The reason why I am writing about him is I genuinely find him a fascinating and engaging character. Like many, I thought his initial decision to call out David Haye was rash, and I was concerned he was going to regret this move. Like others, when he told Haye in the build up to the fight he would grant him a rematch once he had beaten him, I felt this was a fanciful suggestion, and was an unlikely scenario. Yet here we are, hours away from Bellew vs Haye 2, following the Liverpudlian’s victory last March, with no one laughing at Bellew now. It is well reported that Haye picked up a bad leg injury in their first bout, which hindered his participation, but what seems to be glossed over by certain media outlets is that was not until the sixth round. Many people did not expect it to last three, so for Bellew still to be very much holding his own at this point, backs up the confidence he had in his own abilities to overcome Haye.

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I have followed Bellew for a while, but since this victory, I have become increasing interested in his background and career. He made waves in the amateur division, and has boxed at three weight categories, claiming notable scalps in all of them. He even managed to overcome Adonis Creed, who is from real boxing pedigree, at Goodison Park in 2015, despite suffering a brutal 12th round knockdown! Due to Haye’s injuries, he has not been able to step foot into the ring since last year, so has spent increased time doing commentary work and offering analysis on big fight nights. Anyone who watched the Anthony Joshua vs Joseph Parker undercard, which featured his good mate David Price, would have found his encouragement to his friend entertaining and insightful listening, profanities aside!

It is easy to make judgements about people in life, particularly those you do not know. I have never met Bellew, but when I discuss him with my friends who follow boxing, I always make the same point. He is a student of the game. He researches it, watches over boxers, and is fully aware of his own strengths and limitations, as well as those he is going in against. In the build up to the last fight, I saw a slightly random piece Bellew did with Jamie Carragher for Soccer Am which actually demonstrates these points perfectly. Bellew mentions that if it goes past five rounds Haye will be in trouble, which it did and he was, and talks Carragher through how his going to nullify Haye’s fighting techniques. I don’t recall Haye causing him that many problems before he picked up his Achilles injury, which suggests he had him well worked out.

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To get to the level he has got to takes commitment, self-belief, and most of all, ability. Bellew has this in spades, and has every reason to go into this bout with confidence that he can repeat the result of last time out. He seems to be a real family man, and spoke passionately at his last fight about how the victory had set up his three children for life. As someone whose only real interest is providing for my family, I can only imagine the satisfaction that situation must now bring him.

I am no boxing expert, but based on what I have read, I fully expect to see David Haye take a different approach when the bell rings in a fortnight. He certainly seems to be taking Bellew more seriously, and looks in great condition for the match. I am calling the outcome to be the same though, with Bellew overcoming Haye in the latter stages of the fight, as I just think he has his number. I hope both come through with their health in tact, but I will be only cheering for one. Good luck Tony Bellew, and may you prove the doubters wrong again.

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