Tony Bellew shares scary gaunt photo at height of 175 weight struggle

Tony Bellew

📸 Lawrence Lustig / @tonybellew

It’s never been a secret that Tony Bellew was tight at the light-heavyweight limit back in the day. The man who fought as a heavyweight during his amateur days decided on a surprise run at 175 for his 2007 pro debut.

Boiling down was a choice for ‘The Bomber’ at the beginning. With the intention of moving up to cruiserweight and above later in his career – which he eventually did.

But only those close to him at that time really knew the horrors Bellew had to go through to make 175 pounds.

Early during his progression, and apart from a tester for his first pro outing, Bellew had the ‘luxury’ of fluctuating a little before titles were on the line.

Hitting 177 for his second and third fights, Bellew went to 184 for a 2008 victory over Paul Bonson in Bolton. This must have been a relief for Bellew at that time.

It was only a short reprieve though. The devout Evertonian would be back to 178 and below just three months later. A trend which continued until December that year.

At the back end of 2008, the pressure of making weight was already taking its toll and Bellew scaled 184, 189 and 184 for his next three contests.

Late in 2009, the news came the 11-0 prospect was waiting for. That a title was in the offing and on the horizon.

Bellew quickly knuckled down to make 177 against Martial Oleme before going under 175 for the first time in his career for Atoli Moore in March 2010.

A Commonwealth clash with Bob Ajisafe lay in wait, but it took six months for the title bout to make it to the ring.

Amazingly, Bellew scaled the same 174 (plus change) he did for Oleme when battling to a unanimous verdict in Mayfair. The Liverpool man had his first strap.

Back-to-back defenses took place at the Echo Arena and Bellew remained steadfast in scaling under the limit. It seemed he’d found a fool-proof way to hit his excruciating target weight.

For the next two years, as the calibre of the opponent increased, it was clear Bellew was struggling badly.

A loss to Nathan Cleverly and a draw with Isaac Chilemba were clear warning signs for Bellew. But once the call came from acting WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman (taking the role due to an illness his father Jose would never recover from), Bellew had to go one more time in search of the ultimate glory.

Working his way to mandatory WBC contender, Bellew was pitched to face Adonis Stevenson. He knew to make that weight one more time was likely a bridge too far.

Looking at the photograph Bellew shared, it’s clear to see why. He was 185 pounds at the time and looked as if he’d been living in a starvation camp. It was not good.

Reliving the pain, Bellew said: “The last time I made 175lbs! I took this photo three weeks before I left for Canada to take on Adonis Stevenson!

“I was living in Jersey City in NY for a month prior to the fight. I had 10 pounds to go on this photo!

“I had woken up and sent this picture to the wife after she asked me how’s the weight going?? My reply was “Great Luv”

” Oh well all is well that ends well I suppose. As I’ve said before Abs are overrated.”

Plowing on with the coveted green and gold belt on his mind, Bellew went into battle and had nothing to give. Stopped in seven rounds in Quebec City, Bellew promised to never put himself through that torture again.


Moving to 197 pounds proved to be the making of a champion as Bellew settled into cruiserweight at a cosy 199 pounds.

A world title victory later and Bellew was able to make millions against David Haye in a heavyweight double-bill.

So would Bellew change anything about his torturous six-year run, you’d have to ask the retired commentator that.

Judging by the picture shared, it brought back painful memories.

Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay