Re: Thoughts on Bellew after last night. Is he ready for the elite?
The weight seemed to affect Bellew a while ago but he looks a lot stronger now than he did a couple of years back. It's usually the other way around but maybe it was the change in trainers or something, but either way, I don't think Bellew is struggling with the weight at all right now. He looks healthy when training, he looks perfectly fine on the scales and on fight night, he's looking fitter than ever. I'm not sure why this drained argument continues despite everything saying the contrary.
I like things about Bellew that other people might consider to be negatives. Others might say he had a poor chin after the heavy McKenzie knockdowns but I think he showed a lot of character. When he boxed against McKenzie in the rematch, critics might say he ran but I thought he showed versatility and clear head. He goes to war with Cleverly and loses a close fight but I think that was a great learning experience for him, though it was a harsh experience. People may say he was boring against Miranda but for me, it showed a lot about his character to box for so long and then when he had his man, he stopped him. The Bolonti fight is another for the critics, who'd say Bellew was boring, but I thought he was smart and did what he had to do.
For a fighter with 20 fights, it's priceless for him to have gone through these things now. People can say it's a sign of weakness, and that may be true, but if he can overcome those weaknesses in the past, it's a good sign for the future. If he fights Dawson and gets knocked down, cut, hurts his hands or whatever, and he has to adjust, he's going to know exactly what to do. He's been through a fair few hard fights but look at him now. He's progressed continuously and he's now a much better fighter than he was when he fought Cleverly or when he was hurt against McKenzie or whatever.
Experience is key in boxing. You get hurt, knocked down, cut or whatever, but those things don't matter, the reaction to them is what matters and that's why I take Bellew's reaction as a good thing. He's only had 20 fights and yet he's faced plenty of adversity. If a boxer can improve those weaknesses in the way Bellew has, it's a great learning curve for them.
As for his future, I do think Bellew has potential to beat world champions. I don't think he hits the hardest, takes the best shot or has the most skill in the division, but he combines those three things well and you also have to consider than boxing is often decided by intangible qualities, which Bellew has in bucketloads. He has heart, ring smarts and toughness that Chad Dawson couldn't even dream of having.