A triumphant Tony Bellew mentioned a potential clash with Andre Ward in the aftermath of his repeat victory over David Haye last week as the Liverpool man bids to continue cashing in on his exceptional form of late.
The fifth round stoppage of a faded Haye represented a tenth straight win for the ‘Bomber’ since Bellew suffered only the second loss of his career against Adonis Stevenson when struggling to make the 175 pound limit in Canada five years ago.
With eight of those triumphs coming via knockout, confidence is high with the 35 year-old as promoter Eddie Hearn contemplates the next challenge for the former WBC cruiserweight ruler.
Ward would certainly be a lucrative option despite the American announcing his retirement in 2017, but for my money, it would have to be Stevenson who Hearn pursues for Bellew at the 200 pound limit.
Win or lose against Badou Jack on May 19, Stevenson moving up to cruiserweight to face Bellew would have a solid angle and give the Briton the opportunity to defeat every man he ever faced in the ring.
The first defeat being Nathan Cleverly, whom Bellew beat in 2014 three years after an initial loss, it was Stevenson who represented by far the most hurtful of the two reverses currently residing on the 30-2-1 puncher’s C.V.
Bellew had earned the WBC mandatory light-heavyweight spot at the time, and despite being crippled by the weight for his two prior bouts with Isaac Chilemba (one of which produced the only draw on his record), the scouser took an ill-fated offer to face ‘Superman’ in his own backyard.
Photo: Ed Mulholland
It proved to be the biggest mistake of Bellew’s career as a much-needed climb up the divisional ladder was sacrificed in a bid to fulfil his lifelong dream of becoming a world champion.
That destiny was eventually secured at the correct weight of 200 pounds three years on against Junior Makabu at Goodison Park, although defeating Stevenson to complete his career with a Lennox Lewis-style achievement (beating all fighters faced) would potentially be sweeter for Bellew – even without a title of any kind being on the line.
It's a fact Bellew is always better in the rematches of his fights and the only stumbling block would be Stevenson, who says he can still make 168, agreeing to the weight stipulation.
Even taking the fight at 190 pounds could be beneficial for Bellew for what would possibly be another UK Pay-Per-View event for Hearn to sink his teeth into.
Bellew could then ride off into the sunset to enjoy his life safe in the knowledge he bettered all comers, with a potentially damaging defeat at heavyweight against the likes of Tyson Fury or Joseph Parker being rightfully avoided.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay