Tony Bellew wants to fight Andre Ward, there’s no secret about that fact. But can the fight actually sell across the Atlantic?
Ward has been retired since June 2017 on the back of an impressive double-victory over Sergey Kovalev – after which the American secured his lifelong dream of becoming pound for pound number one.
With his legacy confirmed, the ‘S.O.G’ couldn’t see anything on the horizon that could top the feeling of being the best fighter on the planet.
So could his mind be changed?
Bellew certainly hopes so, but there’s one thing that doesn’t motivate Ward and that’s money. Fighting is all about the challenge for Ward, so would facing the Liverpool man at the heavyweight limit have enough appeal for the two-weight world champion to dust off his gloves?
I’m not sure a contest on Merseyside, even at a football stadium would be Ward’s style, although potentially securing another Las Vegas affair might hold some merit.
So how does Bellew’s promoter Eddie Hearn sell a fight in the United States featuring the David Haye conqueror? – Simple, use the angle of the ‘Creed’ fight to stir up emotions.
Everybody loves a good ‘art imitating life’ story and what better than offering the US market ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan versus Danny Wheeler from the successful Sylvester Stallone and Ryan Coogler movie ‘Creed’.
In the film, Conlan breaks Wheeler’s jaw at press conference weeks before their massive super-fight, leaving the world champion (Conlan) to seek out an alternative opponent (Adonis Creed).
With the beef never squashed in the duration of the hit movie, which won Stallone a Golden Globe, surely Hearn could use that fantasy to gather interest from a tough crowd.
Hearn is aiming to higher the Matchroom profile following a deal with DAZN to stream fights to the US market, so his biggest UK names will need more exposure stateside.
The ‘Conlan v Wheeler’ play could do this, and although Ward v Bellew would stop short of any movements towards PPV, it would be a huge event to put on the new service.
Any agreement could also coincide with the promotion of ‘Creed 2’ which is currently in filming and will be released in the next twelve months.
Alternatively, Bellew has a revenge contest with Adonis Stevenson to chew over, an encounter that would give ‘The Bomber’ the opportunity to defeat every man he ever faced – having lost to the Canadian puncher back in 2013.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay