Bellew upset brings vindication for Coldwell

Mark Butcher
06/03/2017 2:45pm

Photo: Dave Coldwell, Twitter, @davidcoldwell

It was a barely believable upset that few predicted but Tony Bellew’s almost surreal 11th round triumph over the fancied David Haye was also a vindication for the victor’s trainer Dave Coldwell.

A one-time employee at Hayemaker Promotions, Coldwell’s qualities as a trainer had been brought into question by Haye, an established heavyweight, and the usual naysayers on social media. Yet the coach’s meticulous planning and attention to detail saw him have the last word as former light-heavyweight Bellew showed unexpected strength and punch resistance to batter an injured Haye to defeat on Saturday night at O2 Arena.

“You don’t understand what my Twitter has been like! I’ve had a lot of slatings, slagging offs and personal stuff so it is sweet,” Coldwell told BM in the early hours of Sunday morning following the post-fight press conference.

“It’s not that you have to prove them wrong [though]. They said Bellew was fat, slow, easy to hit, can’t take a shot. People posted pictures of him being put down by [WBC light-heavyweight champion] Adonis Stevenson and were saying he’s not going to [survive] one round. I’m so happy for him and, I’m not going to lie, for myself as well. It’s just not been a nice build-up.”

With Haye noted as a tremendous puncher and a heavyweight since 2008, common sense dictated that WBC cruiserweight champion Bellew, the perceived smaller man, would fold in his first foray in the division.

“People don’t understand. They keep going on about the Stevenson fight, but Tony was a scrawny light-heavy who killed himself to make the weight,” said Coldwell. “If you boil yourself down in weight you are not going to take the shots as well as you do when you’re feeling more healthy. This is boxing. In a world of body beautiful, body conscious people [a nod to Haye’s chiselled physique], many forget that boxing is about brains, shot selection, patience and skills.”

Haye’s pre-fight rhetoric was bullish to the point of over-confidence and the Londoner evidently believed the smaller man would crumble under fire, but the Bellew camp were planning for hell and not a payday.

“Haye trained hard, but his whole attitude of dismissiveness [towards] Bellew, the training and my knowledge [suggests] he underestimated everything,” Coldwell told BM.

“Mentally, if you don’t prepare for the worst and someone to beat you, back you up and hit you that hard…and you don’t prepare for them to take your shots….when that starts happening in the fight it’s so hard to change the mentality.

“I told [Bellew] no matter what happens in the first couple of rounds, ‘Trust me, it will not last and you have to keep remembering that’. When you prepare for somebody who is going to be terrifying and hits so hard – when he hits you, you think, ‘That’s not so bad’.

"After one of the rounds, [Bellew] came back to me and said, ‘He doesn’t actually hit that hard’. That’s the mentality. It can work both ways and I believe [the Haye camp] underestimated everything.”

A key element of Bellew’s surprising ability to absorb punishment emanated from his sparring sessions with hulking heavyweight Dereck Chisora, known for his strength on the inside and considerable bulk.

“I got stick for that. I don’t know what I’m doing, mocking me. Because [Chisora] doesn’t have a style like David Haye,” said Coldwell. “I know he doesn’t box like David Haye - I’ve been around boxing for a long time - but I wanted [Chisora] for when it became a fight.

“If Bellew goes into a fight against a 16 stone heavyweight having never having fought a 16 stone heavyweight – does he know he’s strong or think he’s strong? If you think you’re strong, you have doubts, but if you’ve done it in sparring against an 18 stone man when that is his game – fighting – you know. Who was the strongest in the clinches – [Bellew] - because he’d been in there with ‘Del Boy’.

“We only brought [Chisora] in for two spars in the last six rounds of each of those two spars. When we’d done the sharp stuff [for when it] becomes dangerous and physical. I said to ‘Del Boy’ in the ring afterwards, ‘You were a massive part of why we won today’. That last spar on that Friday, [Bellew] stood with ‘Del Boy’ and had a tear-up. I told him I want you to go for broke on him, I want you to fight him.

“I knew if [Bellew] followed instructions he could negate the right hand and make [Haye] miss all night because he’s got better feet than David Haye [a reference to before Haye’s ankle injury which naturally inhibited his movement]. People don’t realise that – he was making him fall short. I told Tony, ‘I’m not arsed if you lose those first couple of rounds, just make him fall short, make him [think] when he goes back to the corner’.”

Liverpool’s Bellew (29-2-1, 19 KOs) will now take time to review his options with a return to cruiserweight, another ambitious heavyweight challenge or even retirement among his options. A fight with WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker seems viable with the New Zealander one of the smaller fighters in boxing’s highest weight class. Parker is not among the division’s behemoths like towering rival champions Anthony Joshua [IBF] and Deontay Wilder [WBC] who are different beasts within the same division.

“Parker would be fine because he’s not a giant, but not the Joshuas of this world. No offence, but please, no,” admitted Coldwell. “A Parker fight is viable, but if Tony said to me, ‘I’m going to get out [retire]’ – I’d genuinely be fine with that. He’s achieved a dream – he’s secured his family’s [financial] future and I’m happy for him. We’ll have to see. If it’s worth it for him to carry on, I wouldn’t deny him that.”