What's next for Tony Bellew at Heavyweight
Aiden McGrath considers the future of boxer Tony Bellew as a heavyweight.
David Haye vs Tony Bellew Highlights, Youtube
And he did well to win, knocking Haye out of the ropes late in the 11th round. At that point, Shane McGuigan threw in the towel and Bellew was awarded a TKO. As did the Twittersphere, the crowd erupted at the most unlikely of underdog stories. It certainly felt like a fantasy for the fighters too, with Haye admitting after "it felt like a Rocky movie and I was one punch away from knocking him out, but I couldn't quite do it". The Hayemaker might have a point. A pattern developed throughout the bout, where Haye, the bigger man, dominated the centre-ring and initiated vicious and powerful attacks. Bellew was content to dance along the ropes, watching for Haye's triggers to time his counters.
As Bellew predicted, Haye tired after four rounds, at which point his opponent summoned his reserves and brought his cruiserweight pace to the party. But the real turning point was during the 6th round, when Haye went over on his right foot, rupturing his Achilles. He soldiered on bravely, and Bellew, also running on fumes, had to keep a correct balance of pressing his advantage and maintaining enough stamina to defend against any last-ditch 'all-or-nothings'. Alas, none came, and Bellew got his just deserts.
Heavyweight life after Haye
But that only spelt the beginning for the Liverpudlian. When asked about his career prospects in an interview with Betsafe, ambassador Tony Bellew said, "l am looking at living the dream, and living the dream would be becoming the Heavyweight Champion of the world". That would likely mean facing any one of Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker, or Tyson Fury.
Indeed, Bellew may fancy his chances against TBRB's 4th ranked boxer, Joseph Parker. The New Zealander only narrowly clinched victory over Razvan Cojanu on a points decision, but his people will be keen to get him fighting against Bellew. The promoter, Eddie Hearn, has even asked Deontay Wilder questions, flying to and from the US to set something up. Bellew has also addressed the controversial Haye's injury, confessing that there was still unfinished business between the two and that he wouldn't back down from a rematch to put the feud to bed once and for all.
But can Bellew compete in his new weight category? As incredible as Bellew's triumph over Haye might have been, Bellew is by no means a natural Heavyweight. The former Cruiserweight champion gained over a stone from his previous title defence fight with BJ Flores to face Haye. But it's no easy feat building weight and adapting to a new weight category. It will require further weight gains to stand a chance against the more established heavyweight boxers, whilst it will also mean he'll need to adapt his technique. Bellew weighed in at 15st 3lbs 8oz against Haye, who, in contrast, weighed in at 16st 90oz.
Diet and training
There is a relatively simple equation for weight gain - your body needs to make more protein than it loses, i.e. a positive net muscle protein balance. This process is called muscle-protein synthesis and relies on an optimal supply of protein, a good source of leucine and testosterone, and resistance training. Even athletes at the top of their game need to do the basics and know the potential rewards of getting the right balance in diet and exercise. Doing it is a challenge.
You need to ensure you get the key ingredient, protein, approximately 2g of the stuff for every kg of body weight per day. That needs to be consumed five times a day, at least three hours between feeds and once before sleep. You will also need to ensure you don't skimp on other food groups like carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins.
As in the fight against Haye, Bellew gambled successfully because Haye was essentially a heavy cruiserweight (after all, Haye likewise leapt himself) and was able to predict when Haye would launch his powerful attacks and simultaneously expend his energy.
Bellew had to be careful too. Whilst he was used to moving more, he was not necessarily used to moving with additional weight. Training with his new weight allows him to adapt his fighting technique and evolve his instinct to find the right balance between heavy energy expenditure and attack.
In this regard, and surfacing the controversy of Haye's injury once more, it is uncertain if Bellew can indeed perform at heavyweight against younger, fitter, and more experienced category boxers. Whatever the Liverpudlian decides to do, it'll make for entertaining viewing.
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About the Author
Aiden McGrath is a massive fan of all things sport with a keen interest in boxing and soccer. Aiden was always interested in sports science from a young age, looking to find new ways to improve athletic performance.