Reigning WBC cruiserweight champ Tony Bellew, who will face David Haye in a huge British showdown at heavyweight next March, will leave the ring as a world champion regardless of the outcome of the fight. Bellew has revealed to Sky Sports how he has been given a “special exemption” by the WBC, that allows his mandatory defence – against the winner of the April Marco Huck-Mairis Breidis fight – to be delayed until August of next year.
Bellew had feared the WBC would strip him for not defending against Breidis after his allowed voluntary defence against BJ Flores, which took place this October. Now, Bellew knows he will be able to return to the ring as a reigning world champion after the Haye fight whether he wins it or not (and of course Bellew is adamant he will beat Haye on March 4th).
“I have been given the special exemption which I was very happy to hear,” Bellew told Sky Sports. “I was at the WBC convention as their champion and I thought there was a chance that I was going to be stripped, but they gave me this special order. I was flattered and honoured because they gave me a specially requested voluntary (the defence against Flores) when I had a mandatory shot straight away (against the unbeaten Breidis).”
If Bellew had stayed at 200-pounds instead of going up to get it on with Haye in a fight seemingly everyone is talking about here in the UK, Breidis would be getting his shot at Bellew next. Now, however, the WBC have ordered the Breidis-Huck fight for April, the winner to get a crack at Bellew.
Huck-Breidis could be a great fight, and whichever man it is who gets to challenge Bellew for his cruiserweight belt, he may well be hoping Haye has taken a lot out of him. Indeed, if Haye gives Bellew the beating many fans seem to expect he will, how much will Bellew have left?
Typically confident, Bellew says he will beat Haye and then look to both defend his cruiserweight belt and unify the division.
“I’m not bothered who wins (out of Huck and Breidis). I will enter the ring as champion and leave as champion,” he said.
If – and it could be a big if – Bellew can win both of his upcoming fights, 2017 will be one great year for him.