There’s no question Tony Bellew struck gold when the idea of moving up in weight to face David Haye was pitched in 2016 as the former cruiserweight ruler was never going to pile on the pounds in the top division.
Making the final move up after defeating BJ Flores easily, Haye was a sound grudge match for Bellew to secure his future financially.
Remaining at 200 pounds for a WBC mandated clash with Mairis Briedis was about as unlucrative as things could have gotten for the Liverpool man, who jumped at the chance to prove himself against a one-time world heavyweight title-holder.
Several years out and with a locker full of injuries meant Haye was ultimately no match for Bellew, who most likely would have enjoyed the same success if the rematch did go through.
Haye pulling out injured (yet again) has now opened up the firm possibility of moving in a different direction but it’s not really clear where ‘The Bomber’ can go.
Relying on Haye to be fully fit for March or May could be a waste of time as Bellew has pointed out ‘The Hayemaker’ has only gone through with fifty percent of his last eight signed fights.
Anthony Joshua (254 pounds), Kubrat Pulev, Dominic Breazeale (both 255 pounds), Jarrell Miller (280 pounds plus), Dillian Whyte (250 plus) and even Joseph Parker (245 pounds) look to be a bridge too far in the weight department as Bellew could only manage an extra 13 pounds for his debut against Haye earlier this year.
Going in against a much heavier opponent wouldn’t be a wise move, even though Bellew has gone public with his confidence of dethroning Parker of the WBO belt.
The only trouble with that plan is that Bellew isn’t rated with the World Boxing Organisation, meaning the WBC route (where Bellew is ranked #6) could be the only option.
Fighters like Alexander Povetkin, who at around 230 pounds could be a realistic proposition but who have fallen foul of the drug testing programs, have roundly been slated by Bellew – who says all should be banned for life.
So where does Bellew go in his pursuit of potentially battling WBC ruler Deontay Wilder (220 pounds) in the future?
Well, nobody currently sits in the Bellew weight range in the top 15 ratings, which can only mean one thing, that the Liverpool man should go directly for undefeated Wilder.
‘The Bronze Bomber’ is due a voluntary and wants to face Anthony Joshua in the future, with promoter Eddie Hearn already stating the pair could share a bill before a summer meeting.
That’s where Bellew needs to raise his hand for a title assault as ranking points mean he’d get WBC approval and would be a solid UK name for Wilder to face en route to a unification with Joshua.
Should Bellew be able to pull off what would be a shock win, a massive challenge against Joshua would await and be the first UK undisputed heavyweight title fight in the history of the sport.
Granted Bellew would be Snow White underdog, but the lure of securing the future of his family further certainly adds up to the 34 year-old having the willingness to sign on for ‘AJ’.
Other than taking the Wilder route, Bellew is staring down the barrel of meaningless fights against ex-cruiserweights in the ilk of a Marco Huck or even a Mike Perez, something which may not appeal to the fans or the fighter himself.
The recent release of the WBC rankings is a signal something big can be made from a bad situation with Haye and why Bellew must act fast to put his name at the top of the list with Hearn to face American Wilder in the spring.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay