THE EVERTONIAN BOMBER
Updated: Jul 1
Tony Bellew was born in Liverpool on 30th November 1982. In 2002 and 2003 he took the ABA novice titles by knocking out every opponent he faced, bar Rob Hough. He stepped up to the seniors as a heavyweight, winning three consecutive ABA titles (2004 to 2006) and finished with an amateur record of 40-7 (32 KO's).
He turned pro on 06th October 2007 beating Jamie Ambler in the second round. He went 12-0 and in his thirteenth paid contest challenged Ghana's Atoli Moore for the vacant light-heavyweight Commonwealth title, winning by a first round TKO.
He defeneded it against Bob Ajisafe and Ovill McKenzie. He faced McKenzie again, this time with the vacant British light-heavyweight title on the line as well as Bellew's commonwealth championship. After a twelve round unanimous decision Bellew was a double domestic title holder.
On 15th October 2011 Tony Bellew challenged Welshman Nathan Cleverly for the WBO light-heavyweight title. Both men were undefeated, 22-0 (Cleverly) and 16-0 (Bellew). Cleverly turned pro in July 2005 and picked up the vacant Commonwealth light-heavyweight title from Tony Oakey in his thirteenth contest. In his fourth defence of the championship he added the vacant British crown by defeating Danny McIntosh in the seventh round.
After an eighth round win over Courtney Fry he faced Italian opponent Antonio Brancalion for the vacant European belt, winning by a fifth round TKO. He then faced Karo Murat in a WBO light-heavyweight title eliminator, winning by TKO in the tenth round.
Cleverly then fought Frenchman Nadjib Mohammedi for the Interim WBO lght-heavyweight crown, winning by an unanimous decision. His first defence was against Poland's Aleksy Kuziemski. He stopped the challenger in the fourth round.
Cleverly made his second defence of the crown against Bellew in his home city of Liverpool. Bellew started fast and had the champion in trouble in the second round from his chopping right hand. Cleverly got his jab working in the third and was landing the cleaner shots at the midway point of the fight.
A crunching right cross from the challenger had Cleverly on the ropes. The champion knew he needed a strong final round and finished the contest on the front foot. The bout was action packed but hard to score and Bellew suffered his first defeat with scores of 117-112, 116-113 and 114.
Bellew returned to the ring in April 2012 with a successful defence of his British title. In September he added the vacant WBC International Silver belt to his collection by defeating Edison Miranda in the ninth round. He made three defences before challenging WBC light-heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.
The title fight took place in Canada on 30th November 2013. The champion had only lost one contest, (which he avenged by knocking out Darnell Boone in the sixth round) in twenty three bouts and sported nineteen knockouts. He knocked out Chad Dawson in the first round to become world champion and forced Travoris Cloud, the former IBF light-heavyweight champion to retire after seven rounds, in his first defence.
Against Bellew the champion was making his second defence. Bellew boxed well on the backfoot, making the champion miss and trying to counter with his own punches, but Stevenson was landing some big shots. A combination seemed to drop the champion in the fourth round, but the referee ruled it a slip as Stevenson fell over Bellew's boot. A single left from the southpaw champion floored Bellew in the sixth. He got up but another hard left had the challenger out on his feet and the brave Brit was rescued by the referee.
After losing to Stevenson, Bellew stepped up to the cruiserweight limit and stopped Russia's Valery Brudov in the twelfth round to win the vacant WBO International title. He stopped Julio Cesar Dos Santos in his first defence with a fifth round TKO. On 22nd November 2014, with no championship
at stake, he avenged his first defeat by winning a split decision against Nathan Cleverly.
Two victories later he lifted the vacant European cruiserweight title by winning an unanimous decision against Poland's Mateusz Masternak. The victory put him in line for the vacant WBC cruiserweight championship, against Ilunga Makabu. Bellew fought at his beloved Goodison Park, Everton FC's football stadium in Liverpool.
Makabu, hailing from South Africa had a record of 19-1 (18 KO's) and was a notoriously slow starter. Bellew was taking he first round using his height and reach advantage over his southpaw opponent. He had Makabu against the ropes and started to unload some heavy shots to head and body, but with the round coming to an end the South African landed a left hook that dropped Bellew. It was a flash knockdown, but the warning signs were there that this man could bang.
The second round was a quiet affair with both men happy to stalk each other and work behind jabs. The third round started the same, but when Bellew was forced to the ropes he hurt his man with a left hook. Makabu went to the ropes as Bellew unloaded on him. Makabu fired back, but Bellew wasn't to be denied. A left hook landed flush, relieving the South African of his senses. He was out before he hit the canvas and the referee stopped the contest without administrating a count. Bellew made it third time lucky by becoming a world champion at last.
Bellew made his first defence against BJ Flores at the Echo Arena, Liverpool. Both men got straight to action, the champion landing some good counters and body shots. The second round was a very good one for Bellew, where he floored his man three times. He finished the fight in the next round, but as soon as Flores was counted out, Bellew turned his attention to David Haye, who was working as a commentator at ringside.
Bellew had to be restrained as he mouthed off at the former WBA heavyweight champion, which sparked the catalyst for their grudge match that took place on 04th March 2017 at the O2 Arena. 'The Hayemaker' expected a quick knockout and so did the majority of the public, but Tony Bellew was able to make Haye miss.
By the end of the fifth Haye had managed to get through and hurt Bellew. The bomber was also cut and it only looked a matter of time before he would get stopped. Haye was in front on the judges cards going into the sixth round. This is where the fight changed direction as Haye suffered the ruptured achilles injury. Bellew took charge after this and actually scored a knockdown.
Rounds seven and eight had 'The Bomber' all over Haye, who was nothing but a standing target. Bellew seemed to have punched himself out as Haye was able to take the ninth. In the eleventh Bellew had Haye on the ropes and he had no option but to get knocked though the ropes. Haye barely beat the count as he struggled back in the ring, but his corner threw in the towel.
Bellew had done the impossible and caused one of the biggest upsets in a British ring in recent times. It was also revealed that Bellew had broken his hand in round two. After all the bad blood between the two during the build-up to this fight, it was nice to see Bellew going over to a limping Haye and helping him to his stool after the finish.
As the two settled for a December rematch, Haye was still a favourite to win and march on to better things. However, the bout had to be rescheduled for 05th May 2018, as Haye had a freak accident during a training run, which involved a flight of stairs.
Again during the press conferences, which saw Bellew trying to goad his man into a war of words, with Haye was having none of it. The pair had to be separated during the final press conference stare-down as Bellew pushed Haye away as the latter got right in the former's face.
The Hayemaker looked in superb condition, as in all his previous fights, and took the centre of the ring. Haye was busy with the jab, but Bellew was looking composed and even shook his head as a right hand got through. Bellew had a bit of a punching spurt towards the end of the round, but it was Haye who looked to have clinched the opener.
The former WBA heavyweight champion took the ring's centre again in the next round. He was marching forward, flat-footed, looking to land something big. Bellew was quite content to ride the storm and pepper his man with jabs. Haye did get through with a right, but Bellew raised his hands in a 'You can't hurt me' kind of way. Haye also raised his hands and shrugged in response to the brvado.
Haye was looking the busier of the two in round three, but Bellew was very sound defensively and made his opponent work. Towards the end of the round Haye unloaded some big shots, with Bellew countering off the ropes. Haye backed away with the Liverpudlian chasing him. They swapped blows and Bellew floored his man with a right hand. Haye beat the count, but was quickly on the seat of his pants again, with the bell sounding. The former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion went back to his corner needing the vital seconds of the minute break to recover.
Bellew was beginning to turn the screw in the next round and looked the man with the power. Haye
was a spent force, his legs were completely gone, his timing in disarray as he tried to land the big fight finishing shot. It was only a matter of time now for the Hayemaker.
The Bomber was picking his shots in the fifth, using his boxing experience as he knew one shot from Haye would finish things. Then with almost two minutes gone they traded left hooks mid-ring. Haye came off second best and fell to his knees. He got up and even beckoned Bellew in. The smaller man obliged and had the Londoner on the ropes taking some unanswered punches as referee Howard Foster brought an end to the contest - and David Haye's career - at two minutes and 14 seconds.
With retirement for Haye, Bellew has many options to consider, if he too continues to carry on. Hopefully he'll get a big payday with Tyson Fury before the close of 2018 - we shall see.
All the best fight fans