Hellraiser Boxing News | The Hellraiser Weekender: Tony Bellew- For The Record
For The Record is a series that discusses a boxer's five most recent opponents, and explores what progress those opponents have made since facing them. This time we look at the opponents of Tony Bellew.
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By Matt Lewis
For The Record is a series that discusses a boxer's five most recent opponents, and explores what progress those opponents have made since facing them.
This time we look at the opponents of Tony Bellew, who's scheduled rematch with David Haye has been postponed thanks to yet another injury sustained by the Londoner.
Arturs Kulikauskis - 5th September 2015
Kulikauskis hasn't done much since meeting Bellew, to be honest. His record in his last five was 1-4 when he fought the Liverpudlian, and the lack of form showed. He was stopped in the 8th, and has since had 12 fights against relatively modest opposition, winning two, drawing two and losing the rest. This was essentially a 'keep-busy' match for Bellew (who had fought 3 months beforehand) prior to his march towards a world title shot. Kulikauskis was last seen losing to Scottish cruiserweight Stephen Simmons back in July, and is next slated to appear in Italy, where he faces undefeated prospect Luca D'Ortenzi in Rome. Not much to be gleaned from this one.
Mateusz Masternak - 12th December 2015
A much tougher opponent. Masternak, a former youth interim world and European champion, had been a cruiserweight for 7 years prior to fighting Bellew, who was facing his first real test at 200lbs. The Pole was on good form beforehand, but Bellew turned in an excellent performance to take a unanimous points decision, as well as Masternak's old European belt. Two years on, and that victory still looks good; Masternak has rejuvenated his career having won four on the bounce since his visit to Britain, including a knockout victory on the card headlined by Murat Gassiev and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk for the IBF cruiserweight title (both of whom will have watched his bout with interest). Whether he can actually reach world level is yet to be seen, but if he continues his winning streak, he may well get close.
Ilunga Makabu - 29th May 2016
The title fight, for the vacant WBC world cruiserweight title. Makabu, a big punching southpaw who is unfazed by travel, is a nightmare for most opponents, and he proved as much by flooring the Merseysider in the first. Not to be outdone, Bellew rose from the canvas and stopped the Congan in the third with a peach of a left hook. Following the loss, Makabu took a little time out, not appearing in the ring again until 11 months later. An application to compete in the World Boxing Super Series was rejected, leaving him to fight instead on smaller shows against limited opposition.
Makubu does, however, appear to be back on the title trail, with two knockout wins setting up a December meeting with Olanrewaju Durodola for the vacant WBC Silver strap. If he wins that, his WBC ranking will surely improve (at the time of writing, Makabu is 6th, Durondola is 5th), and may establish him as a mandatory challenger to the belt he lost against Bellew in Liverpool, now held by Mairis Bredis. If he achieves that, Bellew's win against him will look even better than it already does, and it already looks impressive.
BJ Flores - 15th October 2016
Bellew's first defence was against a somewhat unheralded American. Flores, from California, went into this fight without much in the way of justification; he fought for the IBO world title (and was outpointed by Danny Green) but that was back in 2010, and Beibut Shumenov doubled his losses when the pair met in Las Vegas in 2015. After that defeat, Flores only had one six rounder before stepping in with Bellew, and the effects were telling; down twice in the second and a final time in the third, Flores surrendered to the Brit without putting up much resistance, which came as little surprise to most of the boxing community. Since then, he has returned to the States, moved up to heavyweight, and has appeared twice on small hall shows against domestic opposition in his home city of Phoenix, Arizona. At 38 and with no real momentum to speak of, Bellew's victory over him may be the last time we see BJ Flores in the competitive limelight.
David Haye - 4th March 2017
The bad blood had been boiling for a while, and Bellew defeating Flores (a friend of Haye's) set the stage for an otherwise unnatural fight; Haye, in the middle of his heavyweight comeback, was looking to face one of the division's big names, while Bellew was slated to unify his WBC title with the WBO belt held by Oleksandr Usyk. But the money made too much sense, and Bellew overcame the Londoner, and the odds, in a bizarre, almost pantomime affair when Haye's achilles completely gave way in the 6th. He was stopped in the 11th, and spent the next few months soul-searching while in rehab for his injuries. After changing trainers and announcing the rematch for December, Haye damaged his bicep while in camp, convincing many that his body had finally let him down one too many times after an injury-riddled few years for the Bermondsey man.
Posted: 2nd Dec 2017
NEXT UP: Night of Thunder
4th May 2019 00:00, York Hall, 5 Old Ford Road, E2 9PJ
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