Tony Bellew: Facing His Final Test
By Dean Wigzell
When the Z-Cars theme rings out around the Manchester Arena on Saturday and Tony Bellew begins his ring walk, he would be forgiven for taking his time and soaking it all in.
Bellew will be entering into the biggest, and potentially final fight of his career against undisputed cruiserweight Champion Oleksandr Usyk.
The turnaround in his career over the last five years has been truly remarkable and he still divides opinion amongst fans of the fight game.
According to Bellew ‘the whole world’ wrote him off in his early days and very few would ever have tipped him to be entering into a fight of the magnitude of Saturday night.
Many cite Bellew calling on the services of Dave Coldwell 5-years ago as the turning point in his career and the fighter agrees.
‘It’s a gym that changed my career. I’m very lucky that I came here at a time in my career where I’d only won a British and Commonwealth title at light heavyweight.’
‘I walked through these doors with dreams and aspirations. I know I can win a world title and it’s all well and good saying it but I know he believed in me too.’
When that world title did finally come, it came in remarkable style.
Since beating Ilunga Mukabu at his beloved Goodison Park to clinch the WBC cruiserweight title, Bellew’s stock has risen and despite two blockbuster wins over David Haye he feels that nothing, not even a win on Saturday, will ever top that moment.
‘If I knock Usyk out in 20 seconds it still won’t touch that night.’
One trait which it seems has carried Bellew through his toughest moments is his inability to quit.
‘They don’t do the things I do and they don’t have the mindset I have and that’s what gets me where I got’
Will this be it for the Bomber, or will he be tempted to keep going beyond Saturday?
‘It’s supposed to be isn’t it, the coach tells me he’ll leave me if it isn’t. I need a hard fight. The worst thing that can happen is if I chin this fella in 2 rounds.’
Bellew is aware of how big the challenge that Usyk presents is and knows that he will have to dig deep to produce the win he is predicting.
‘I find a way, I don’t know how, I don’t know when but I’ll find a way.’