As 2018 draws to a close, here’s a look back at a professional career spanning over eleven years; in November Anthony Bellew called time on paid pugilism. This is a look back at five moments which defined Bellew’s campaigns at light heavyweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight. Celebrating the man known as “Bomber”.
THE MOVE TO MATCHROOM
During the wake of a legal dispute which Bellew claims almost financially crippled him, Tony made the move to Matchroom Sport. ‘Earn with Hearn’ may well have been the phrase that Tony had in mind. This move may be the smartest move Bellew made in his eleven-year career. It has led to him being financially stable and the proud Scouser claims to have secured the future of his children with regards money as well. After defeating David Haye for a second time, an emotional Bellew claimed, “I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing this for them. Everything I do is for them.”
THE JUMP TO CRUISERWEIGHT
Tony Bellew made the move to cruiserweight after his 6th round TKO loss to recently stricken WBC Light Heavyweight champion, Adonis Stevenson. Wishing Adonis all the best, by the way. The physically and mentally draining weight cuts to make 175lbs proved to be one too many on that night in Canada, 2013. Bellew was stopped on his feet after tasting the canvas in the sixth round. A decision was made to make the move up in weight and to target world title glory without having to make unnatural weight cuts. What a decision it turned out to be!
THE DREAM NIGHT AT GOODISON PARK
After a six fight unbeaten run at cruiserweight, Bellew was handed the chance of a life time. Bomber was given the chance to face Ilunga Mukabu for the vacant WBC Cruiserweight championship of the world at his beloved football stadium, Everton’s Goodison Park. Bellew had dreamed of playing for Everton as a child, so to land a world title opportunity at Goodison Park was a dream come true.
Mukabu, a dangerous southpaw from the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the time had a 19-1 record with 18 knockouts. He was regarded as one of the most dangerous cruiserweights on the planet. Round 1 started well for Bellew, who established himself early and landed some great scoring shots. He looked to be on his way to an easy first round win until Mukabu unleashed a straight left hand on the bell, that sent Tony tumbling. He now had to fight himself back from a two-point deficit, with a broken nose.
After handily taking round two, Bellew still found himself behind on the cards. Trainer David Coldwell was heard between rounds saying, “Stop thinking about entertaining the crowd and think about winning the fight!” Sound advice.
Midway during the third, Bellew caught Mukabu with a clean left hook that sent Mukabu retreating. Bellew managed to keep Mukabu on the ropes and after sending a straight right hand down the pipe, Bomber swung a left hook that connected flush with Congolese fighter’s chin. “It’s stopped. Bellew has done it! Goodison Park goes berserk” screamed Sky Sport’s Adam Smith. Bellew had at last achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a world champion. What a night.
BELLEW VS HAYE II
Before facing David Haye in the first of their two-fight saga, the boxing community feared for the health of Tony Bellew. This move to heavyweight was seen at large as a bad idea. However bad the idea may have seemed, Bellew insisted that he would find a way to win and win he did. He beat David Haye by TKO in round 11; Haye had suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the fifth round.
This dampened Bellew’s victory so he granted Haye a rematch. Tony had a career high payday for the first fight which financially secured him for life. In the build-up to Bellew Haye II, Bomber was once again written off. Bellew famously predicted, “I will finish him again but this time it will be quicker.” In the months leading up to the second fight, Tony tragically lost his brother in law.
This emotionally broke Bellew, who is extremely close to his family. During his fight preparation, David Haye tore his bicep, delaying the fight from December 2017, to May of this year. There was an empty seat ringside, left by Bellew in tribute to his brother in law. Once again, Tony Bellew upset the bookies and stopped an injury free David Haye in five rounds.
After the fight, a tearful Bellew said, “Ashley Roberts, I miss you more than life itself and I swear kid, every punch I threw in there was for you.” This moment showed the world that Tony Bellew had fought for much more than just beating David Haye that evening.
UNDISPUTED CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD?
The final fight. One last throw of the dice, a chance to become Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion of the World. After winning the World Boxing Super Series, unified champion Oleksandr Usyk called out Tony. He wouldn’t take on this unbeatable monster, would he? Of course he would. Bellew wanted to bow out of boxing as the top man in his division.
On November 10th, Usyk vs Bellew took place at the Manchester Arena. Bellew was once again the underdog by a substantial margin. Everyone expected Usyk to win, but the famous words “I always find a way to win”, rang through everyone’s ears. Most believed Usyk would outbox Bellew, but what happened in the first three rounds shocked the world. The self-proclaimed fat Scouser out boxed the widely regarded top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Bomber boxed beautifully, ahead on the cards after four stanzas. Could he sustain the movement and punch output? The next twelve minutes painted a very different picture, Usyk showed his class and put constant pressure on Bellew, landing a large amount of clean scoring shots. The Bomber couldn’t swing the tide and in the eighth round, heartbreak. Tired, Bellew was pushed onto the ropes and with a swift southpaw straight left Usyk sent Bellew to the floor and almost through the ropes. Bellew, undertaking the massive task of becoming undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world, was stopped by one of boxing’s best in Usyk.
In the quest for greatness, Tony Bellew ended his career in defeat. It is a defeat that he should not be ashamed of. Against one of the best boxers in the world, the Bomber showed glimpses of brilliance. Tony ‘Bomber’ Bellew, the former cruiserweight champion of the world, is no longer. Anthony Bellew heads in to 2019 a family man. Enjoy retirement, Anthony. We will all miss you, but most importantly boxing will miss you. Rest well!
Article written by @JonoRauch2