WBC cruiserweight king Tony Bellew is all set for his first title defence. His promoter Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports today how the defence will top a Liverpool show on October 15, with an official announcement of the opponent and other details next week. For now, Hearn says there are three names in the mix: former WBC and IBF champ Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, former WBA title challenger B.J Flores and unbeaten WBC mandatory challenger Mairis Briedis.
“It’s a full division, we have Wlodarczyk, B.J Flores, who has been calling Tony out; that’s a fun fight,” Hearn said. “And we have a mandatory, Mairis Briedis. Hopefully we’ll have an announcement next week.”
Hearn said he thinks Bellew will likely have a voluntary defence in October, so Flores and Wlodarczyk look the two leading candidates unless Bellew really wants to get his mandatory defence out of the way as soon as he can. All three possible fights are good fights. Wlodarczyk has a ton of experience, he is a two-time champ and he has won two fights since losing a decision to Grigory Drozd. Flores was, in the opinion of many, the victim of a bad decision against Beibut Shumenov last year, in a WBA title fight, and he feels he deserves another shot. Also, as Hearn said, Flores and Bellew have been trading insults on social media.
Briedis might be the most dangerous of the three fighters. Unbeaten and carrying good punching power, the Latvian is young and hungry. Bellew could not be blamed for wanting to get himself a voluntary defence, at home in front of his fans, before facing his number-one challenger.
If I were a betting man, my money would be placed on Flores getting the shot at Bellew. It’s a fun fight as Hearn said, Flores is good friends with David Haye, who Bellew seems to really want to fight, and Flores is more than credible.
But let’s wait for the official announcement next week. Bellew overcame odds and a dangerous fighter in beating Ilunga Makabu to snatch the title in May, can he now hold onto it?