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Making a case for Bellew: Heavyweights v Cruiserweights

David Haye Tony Bellew

By Gav Duthie: David Haye versus Tony Bellew, only a money fight surely? Bellew first called David Haye out after he spectacularly knocked out Illunga Makubu to win the WBC Cruiserweight title. If you’d asked me the day before that fight to name 20 possible next opponents for David Haye, Bellew wouldn’t be on there.

It seemed bizarre but now here we are, they will fight in March for nothing other than pride and of course lots of cash. A win over Bellew does nothing really for Haye in the heavyweight division. He could have secured a WBO title shot as mandatory against Joseph Parker and he is also well ranked with the other organizations.

Beating Bellew won’t help securing a title shot. For the Liverpudlian Bellew its a huge moneymaker. He has worked hard to win his title and there are a lot of dangerous cruiserweights sniffing around. His mandatory Mairis Breidis is undefeated, Grigory Drozd is still champion in recess and Marko Huck is highly ranked with the WBC also. Win lose or draw against Haye, Tony Bellew will have plenty of money in the bank at age 33 before he takes on these dangerous foes. The final question here is that can Bellew actually win. I had a look through the archives of heavyweights v cruiserweights to see if I could build a case.

Cruiserweight history

Its not uncommon for smaller guys to challenge bigger guys. Even Stanley Ketchel (Middleweight) fought the heavyweight giant Jack Johnson back in the early 1900’s. Light heavyweights like Ezzard Charles won titles at heavyweight but the heavyweights of this time like Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and Floyd Patterson were around 190lbs. When heavyweights started to get bigger in the 1970’s it was felt it was to tough for some of the smaller fighters to compete. The cruiserweight division was made official (190lb limit) in 1979 with Marvin Camel becoming the first champion in 1980. In around 2005 the limit changed again to 200 lbs with heavyweights becoming bigger still. As a result over the last decade or so we have seen more cruiserweights successfully transition to the highest weight class. Fighters like James Toney, Juan Carlos Gomez, Vassiley Jirov, Antonio Tarver, Steve Cunningham and Tomasz Adamek have successfully won minor titles at heavyweight with Evander Holyfield and David Haye becoming major players in the division. Today the cruiserweight division is packed with talent and guys like Marco Huck, Mairis Breidis have already fought singular fights at heavyweight and new WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk has said he will move up eventually. In time we will see lots of boxers do it as they chase greater glory.

Chris Byrd 41-5-1 (22) v Shaun George 18-3-2 (9)

This is a bit of a wildcard example. When former IBF champion Chris Byrd’s heavyweight career started to come to an end he decided he would have a go at the cruiserweight division. Byrd was a fast heavyweight, slick heavyweight and as he started training to get down to cruiser he began to obsess about losing weight. So much so that he ended up going all the way down to light heavyweight (175lbs). Considering in his last fight he weighed 211lbs v Alexander Povetkin this was incredible. He fought Shaun George and could barely lay a glove on him. Byrd said he felt the punches were coming from all angles and he couldn’t handle the speed. George never amounted to anything despite this great win and he retired after getting knocked out two fights later.

This suggests that fast heavyweights might struggle when they are not faster than their opponents. I’m not sure this would be a problem for Haye however as I still think he is faster than Bellew.

Tomasz Adamek v Andrew Golota

Most fans will remember Tomasz Adamek as a heavyweight nearly man but he is actually a two weight world champion. He started at light heavyweight winning the WBC crown defending it a few times until he lost to Chad Dawson. He was then a cruiserweight champion and beat several talented fighters including the late O’Neill Bell, Steve Cunningham and Jonathan Banks. For his heavyweight debut he faced compatriot Andrew Golota in Poland and was outweighed by 40lbs. Golota was past his best but Adamek made short work of him dispatching him in 5 rounds.

Alexander Povekin v Marco Huck

German Marco Huck is joint with Johnny Nelson making the most defences of a cruiserweight title (13). During this impressive reign he had one fight at heavyweight against then WBA regular champion Alexander Povetkin. The controversial Povetkin has lost only once in his career against Wladimir Klitschko but many felt Huck won this fight despite Povetkin getting the nod by majority decision.

Eddie Chambers v Thabiso Mchunu

Eddie Chambers has always been a small heavyweight at only 6’1″ he usually weighed between 205 and 220. His skill and speed got him to world title challenger level at heavyweight where he was stopped in the final seconds of round 12 against Wladimir Klitschko. After losing to Tomasz Adamek where he weighed in at only 202lbs in 2012 he decided to move down to cruiserweight. He fought Thabiso Mchunu and was completely dominated over 10 rounds before coming back to heavyweight again. Mchunu has went on to be stopped by Illunga Makubu and dominated over 12 rounds by Oleksandr Usyk.

Mairis Briedis v Manuel Charr

The most recent and perhaps most significant was Tony Bellew’s WBC mandatory challenger Mairis Briedis. The Latvian Briedis is relatively unknown in the UK and wouldn’t have made the Liverpudlian any money. Understandably they are ignoring him at present in favour of David Haye. Briedis had one fight at heavyweight where he was outweighed by 30lbs against Manuel Charr. Not only did Briedis win he knocked Charr out cold with an uppercut/hook combination in round 5. Power is power and Briedis has the ability to stop both cruiserweights and heavyweights alike.

Tony Bellew and David Haye

Tony Bellew is definitely carrying more power as he moved up to Cruiserweight. He is 8-0 (6) in this weight class where he was 20-2-1 (12) at 175lbs. He had a 52% stoppage rate at light heavyweight which is now up to 75%. Some cruisers have shown they can easily keep their power in the heavyweight division with greater speed and accuracy. David Haye has never been knocked down as a heavyweight but was dropped several times as a cruiserweight against the likes of Jean Marc Mormeck and Lolenga Mock and was stopped by a 42 year old Carl Thompson. Tony Bellew has predicted Haye won’t go past 4 rounds as his stamina has gone but Bellew isn’t hard to hit. The fight should probably be exciting but will only last a couple of rounds, in that case you have to side with Haye.

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