Tony Bellew caused a huge upset by beating David Haye and now has a big decision to make regarding the future.
After stepping up to heavyweight and beating Haye, despite being a massive underdog, the WBC cruiserweight champion has several options open to him.
He told Radio Five Live after the fight that he would mull things over.
“Need a few days to take on board what I have done because it doesn’t feel real at the minute.”
After that, he will make a decision about the next step in his already ten-year professional career.
So, what options does Bellew have following his remarkable victory over Haye?
Both fighters talked about a rematch after the fight, but it’s highly unlikely at this point.
Haye will need to first discover the severity of his injury and may face a long recovery period. After that, he will need to decide if he wants to continue his comeback. He’s 36 years old and has just been beaten in a fight he promised to win convincingly.
Bellew holds all the aces after this victory and may choose a rematch, knowing it could earn him a lot of money. However, the animosity between the two that captured the imagination of fight fans seems to have turned into a newfound respect. This may mean a second fight drawing less than the first.
Also, Bellew has nothing prove or gain by fighting Haye again. A rematch would be purely for the money.
Challenge For a heavyweight Title
Before the fight, Bellew was quoted as saying he wouldn’t stay at heavyweight after fighting Haye because he wasn’t big enough. However, after winning, he called out WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
Bellew has apparently since insisted those comments were ‘nonsense’, with the Liverpool Echo reporting him as saying:
“I said some nonsense on Sky Sports after the fight about fighting that big girl from Alabama (Wilder) but that’s just me talking nonsense again.”
The unbeaten Wilder, who has won 37 of his 38 fights by KO, is a heavy puncher but Bellew proved he can take some stiff shots against Haye. Despite his comments about talking nonsense, that fight could be a risk worth taking. Wilder isn’t the most technically sound fighter in the world and there are still doubts over his durability.
Another option is a fight against WBO title holder Joseph Parker. Haye was ranked number one by the WBO, so Bellew could quite rightly get a shot at the title having beaten him.
The unbeaten New Zealander defends against Hughie Fury in May but has taken to Twitter to say he will fight Bellew at the O2, if he retains.
@TonyBellew All goes well May 6, I’ll fight you next at the 02 no problem ??
— Joseph Parker (@joeboxerparker) 5 March 2017
While many will once again give Bellew no chance in a fight against either of those, promoter Eddie Hearn is confident of a victory.
Hearn said after the fight (via ESPN):
“I think we could bring Wilder or Parker to the UK. This fight has done great numbers and they aren’t going to get that money anywhere else.
“That could have been a final eliminator for the world heavyweight title. He’s beaten one of the best heavyweights in the world, so as far as I’m concerned he’s earned his shot.
“Joseph Parker and Deontay Wilder are the two fights. We’ve got one of the biggest fights in British boxing history [Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium] on April 29, but I believe Britain can have two world heavyweight champions, because I believe he [Bellew] can beat Wilder and Parker.”
Defend His cruiserweight title
Unbeaten Latvian Mairis Briedis was mandatory challenger for the WBC championship, before Bellew was given an exemption to fight Haye. Briedis will now take on former WBO Cruiserweight champion Marco Huck on April 1 for the WBC Interim title.
If Bellew decides he wants to hold onto his world title, he must face the winner of that fight.
Obviously, there are other options available to him at cruiserweight but they all seem highly unlikely at this stage.
Retire on a high
Bellew has said he’s ready to retire after securing his children’s future with a career high payday against Haye. However, he has also admitted Hearn will probably convince him to fight again.
The 34-year-old told the media:
“This is my last 12 months. I could walk away tomorrow happily, but I know Eddie Hearn’s going to make me some amazing offer I can’t walk away from.”
Trainer Dave Coldwell has said he would be happy to see Bellew call it quits, telling Sky Sports News (via The Sun):
“If Tony said, ‘Dave, I’ve had enough’, I’d be over the moon.”
Talks are planned between Hearn and Bellew for next week, which will involve discussing possible fights. After those talks, there will likely be an announcement about Bellew’s next move.
One thing’s for certain, regardless of what Bellew chooses to do next, nobody can take this victory away from him.
Peter Reynolds, Pundit Arena