Dave Coldwell: Hoping for a long war
With Haye vs Bellew fast approaching, Mark Butcher speaks to Tony Bellew's trainer Dave Coldwell, who tells him that if it comes down to an attritional battle of "balls and guts", there will be only one winner...
It’s fair to say the first Tony Bellew-David Haye press conference did not merely light the touch paper for their 4 March confrontation - it incinerated it – with the two rivals skirmishing on the dais. Needless to say, tickets officially sold out within 55 minutes.
Popular opinion has pegged Bellew as a significant underdog (the bookmakers have him around 9/2) with a widely held perception that the Scouser is a career 175-pounder who cannot possibly engage with former WBA heavyweight title-holder Haye. But size-wise there is little between them (both are 6ft 3ins) and Bellew’s trainer David Coldwell, naturally, gives his man more chance than most.
“When we get new sparring partners – seasoned, good fighters, who haven’t sparred with Tony - they can’t believe how big he is,” said Coldwell. “He’s a big, big lump. People perceive him as a light-heavyweight, but - regardless of what he achieved and how long he stayed there - [fighting at 175lbs] was a mistake as he was depleting his body.
“Haye’s not a natural heavyweight. Is he a heavyweight in the terms of [Anthony] Joshua, [Wladimir] Klitschko, [Tyson] Fury? No, he’s not. His best performances have been when he’s light. At cruiserweight. His last meaningful performance at heavyweight was Dereck Chisora [in July 2012] and he was gassing. He caught Chisora with a fantastic shot – nothing new, we know he can punch. But what about the 2017 version? What does he know in an actual fight? Does he think, I gassed five years ago – am I going to gas now?
“It’s not like Tony is going in with a 6ft 7ins fighter with a lot longer arms, one of these tall 18 stone heavyweights who can bang. He is fighting a guy who - although he looks better athletically - physically and dimension-wise is pretty much the same. They can both hit but they can both be hurt. I think a lot of people are underestimating just how hard Tony can punch. Haye isn’t made of concrete himself. When is the last time you saw him against a banger? Standing there, taking bombs?”
On his comeback, Haye has beaten - with due respect – two relative non-entities in 6 minutes 42 seconds of action. The Londoner has only fought these two times in four-and-a-half years.
“I don’t care who you are. When you have been out of the ring as long as he has – and he is 36 years old - your body starts breaking down and doesn’t do things quite as well as it used to,” said Coldwell.
“If he starts getting rattled by little Tony Bellew – what thoughts are going to be in his head? I don’t care how confident or cocky he is - he can talk about knocking Tony out with a jab and all that crap – once he starts getting put under pressure and nailed what is his mentality going to be? If the fight goes to where you need to show some balls and guts there is only one man who is going to win this fight.”