By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart
I am a soccer fan. When a young kid I used to walk for nearly an hour to get to the ground where my local team played, stand on the terraces and dream of one day pulling on that shirt and getting to play for them. As I got older I realized that my prowess at football was not enough to ever make that happen so I contented myself with being a supporter. Growing up did not diminish the love that I have for my club; it made it more real. Saturday afternoons were usually spent on the terraces at my home ground wondering why they called the place you sit the stand and what the vagaries of various rules actually meant? I also wept when we lost and cried when we won.
As I grew much older and was blessed with children one, my daughter, became involved in accompanying me to games. Firstly, as a spectator and then as my bag kid as I started to report on them.
Then my home team made plans to move to a purpose built new ground; to demolish the old one and build anew. My daughter and I were ready to buy the seats on which we always sat save them from the bulldozers and put in our house.
Such affection for any sport is simply normal.
Tony Bellew, 28-2-1, 18 KO’s, knows what it feels like. His team, Everton, are close to his home and central to his heart. His dream was not to wear the color and play soccer but to walk out into the summer evening air and win a world title in front of fans that had stood, shoulder to shoulder with him, on days when 11 men against 11 had made him cry and made him weep.
And then it happened.
That kid from the terraces walked into the center of a ring and proved a fairy tale can come true. He had found himself in the middle of a horrendous training camp that had not gone well. His preparation was not good enough for anyone wanting to become the supreme master of his sport. But he did it. Ilunga Makabu, 19-2, 18 KO’s, was beaten.
The resilience of the man is quite unbelievable.
There were many who thought he would never achieve that burning ambition of being a world champion as he succumbed to being beaten by Nathan Cleverly and then bulldozed by Adonis Stevenson. The knockout by Stevenson was particularly brutal and flaws were exposed.
The biggest flaw was his weight. Bellew declared himself dead at light heavyweight where his punching power and overall prowess were sacrificed to be within a weight limit he saw as being restrictive; moving to cruiserweight seemed the way to go.
Ironically his biggest rival, Nathan Cleverley, also moved up to cruiserweight about the same time and both started beating guys in their new division; a rematch was inevitable.
Bellew was keen to remove that stain form his record and he did that. Beating Cleverley was a bit of a turning point because the guy from Liverpool was now able to say he had moved on, progressed, got better.
On the 29th of May of 2016 he proved just how far he had come.
He walked into the ring in Goodison Park and recorded a massive victory that was shock waveable. It resounded round a ring, a stadium, a city and out to the world. Bellew had his night with destiny.
For some of us – especially me – we wanted to see Bellew kick on and make the cruiserweight division his own. He is not a guy who is streets ahead of the pack and many think, there are better cruiserweights out there holding belts but his is the green one. The WBC belt holds his mind and his heart equally.
What came next did not shock but it did disappoint a little.
A defense against BJ Flores, a knockout, followed by him losing it and calling out David Haye, 28-2, 26 KO’s, at the ringside.
What has happened next has been a bit of a circus. Haye agreed to square off with him and this Saturday we get to see them share a ring. It was another move up in weight for Bellew but he fought at heavyweight as an amateur so it may be less of a gamble than we think.
At the beginning of all this I wanted it to stop.
I can see why people wanted there to be a fight between two guys who do hate each other.
We have a had a press conference where a punch was thrown. We have had insults on a daily basis between the two and Haye has now managed to extend that towards the fans. Haye has admitted that Bellew has got under his skin. Bellew is not as relentless but the more effective because his fans have turned Haye from Mr Cool to the lord of Misrule.
He has insulted them, lost it and is losing the battle for public affection. Both boxers have been warned by the British Boxing Board of Control over future behavior, especially Haye. He has controversially talked of doing physical and permanent damage to Bellew. Coming home from a training camp in Miami that was designed to wind up people and make it look like he was underestimating Bellew and playing at it, Haye has not let things rest. We know that Haye has been training hard despite the image.
Bellew, the ordinary working class guy who got a reward people said he would never get, is now the people’s champion. Haye is the playboy of the Western World they want to see defeated.
I didn’t want this to ever happen but I have got with the program.
My head says Haye takes it within 5 rounds; my hearts says Bellew is on the verge of another dream night. Heart Vs Head; Bellew Vs Haye; welcome to boxing…
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