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Talking Boxing

Interviews, opinions, features and news from the greatest sport in the world!

December 6, 2016

Bellew embarrassed by fracas with Haye

Enzo Maccarinelli

Image credit: Lawrence Lustig.

by Shaun Brown

Tony Belllew admitted to being embarrassed by the events of last Wednesday afternoon at The Dorchester Hotel in London.

Bellew and David Haye arrived for their first press conference ahead of the heavyweight clash on March 4 at London’s O2 Arena. It wasn’t long before the two parties started firing verbal bombs at one another. What followed was an ugly face-off between the two individuals and ended with them being separated after Haye had thrown a punch at his opponent.

Bellew, the WBC world cruiserweight champion spoke to Talking Boxing 24 hours after the fracas.

“I know it’s not a good thing. I’m embarrassed about it, but I didn’t cause it,” Bellew said.

“I didn’t jam my face up to his face. I just wanted to get him off me, push him away and he chose to sling the shot.

“It’s embarrassed me. First and foremost, I’m a father. I don’t want my kids going home and seeing that on TV. That’s not the business I’m involved in. Always remember, professional boxing is not a sport it is a business. Yesterday was not good for business. I don’t want to come across in that light. I’m not a thug. I’m a professional athlete and a businessman. It disgusts me. I’m WBC cruiserweight champion of the world, and that is not how a WBC champion carries himself. I didn’t throw any shots yesterday. I pushed a guy off because (if he got) any closer, and he would have kissed me.”

The fuse has certainly been lit ahead of their pay-per-view, not that it needed much to get the spark going. It’s been well documented, through the press and social media, that Bellew is not happy at the standard of opponent that Haye has faced since his heavyweight comeback began at the beginning of this year. A one round and two round demolition of Mark De Mori, and more particularly Arnold Gjergjaj has not sat well with Bellew and many a boxing fan.

However, we asked the Liverpudlian if his disdain for the former unified cruiserweight champion and WBA heavyweight champion was purely down to the comeback and nothing else.

“When he come out after his fight against the fella who learned to box through YouTube, Mark De Mori, I thought okay your first one back. I’ll give you that one,” Bellew said.

“He boxed a guy who learned to box through YouTube, that was embarrassing. But then after that fight he done a video and said: ‘Anyone who wants to fight me, anyone can get it’. And I just thought to myself, ‘You know what, I’ll do it. I fancy it’.

“I put a little tweet out, and it caught fire immediately. He got in touch with me and said: ‘Are you serious?’ And I said: ‘You’re too right I’m serious’. He said ‘Let me see what we can do’ and I told him (to) get in touch with Eddie [Hearn]. He said: ‘No, it’s alright’.

“He chose to fight that Gzeraj, he chose to fight him. I belittled him at the press conference yesterday. Everyone made the mistake of saying he’s had two fights. They weren’t two fights, they were two exhibition bouts. I think it’s wrong for the fans, but it’s right for him and that’s all he cares about. To an extent, I can see someone needing a couple of warm-up bouts, but a man of his calibre would even get them two guys in to spar with. Them two guys aren’t good enough for you to spar with then how on earth are they good enough for you to fight? It was just conning everyone. I’m not shy to express my views, my opinions. It’s carried on since then. He hasn’t liked it, he hasn’t appreciated it and now it’s all culminated in this and where we are now.”

And that culmination involved with the unsavoury incident at The Dorchester. We’re no strangers to these types of incidents in the build-up to a big fight. Barrera and Morales, Lewis and Tyson, Bentt and Hide, and so on and so on, have all left their mark on one another pre-fight. Bellew, however, believes that Haye broken an unwritten code among boxers when he threw that bare-knuckle punch.

“One thing’s certain, even though I’m not happy about yesterday I think he’s broke the boxing code,” Bellew remarked.

“We’ve got kinda a code amongst ourselves. You never let your hands go without gloves off. One of us could’ve got cut, a hand could’ve bust… anything could’ve happened. I was shocked because he’s losing his power. All jokes aside there’s a code that we live by, and you don’t let your hands go without gloves on.”

So, after the words, the pushing, the fighting outside the ring and what will go on inside the ring on March 4 will Bellew be interested in shaking hands with Haye afterwards?

“There might be,” he answered.

“If he apologises, I’d consider it. I think it’s wrong (what he did), and he knows it’s wrong. He had no reason to sling that shot. It’s sad, really. It’s not like I lost a friend, we’ve never been friends but he kinda broke the code. Personally, I will never do that.

“I can’t rule it (a handshake) out. When I fought the other fella [Nathan Cleverly] I said there would not be, no matter what and I stood by my words. Didn’t shake hands just got on with it, but this fella I wouldn’t be harsh enough to say a definite no. There could be, but I’d want an apology.”