Tony Bellew is a name many outside the boxing world had never heard of going into this Thanksgiving weekend, but he’s not likely to be a name you will forget after watching Creed, the seventh entry in the Rocky franchise.
Creed stars Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed. Adonis is taken in by Apollo’s widow, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), as a young boy.
Despite having the biological coding, Adonis refuses to take the Creed name until a once-in-a-lifetime shot at the light heavyweight crown presents itself on the condition he does. (As corny as that might sound written here, it is well-played in the film.)
“Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew) is the man who gives Adonis that shot for reasons of his own. What follows is one of the more intense fights in the Rocky franchise.
Just who is this Tony Bellew guy? Where did Sylvester Stallone and company find him? Boxing fans already know the answer, but for those who don’t, here’s the skinny.
“The Bomber” fought his first professional bout at light heavyweight in 2007. It took him all of two rounds to dispatch of fellow U.K. countryman Jamie Ambler.
He followed that up with 15 straight wins, collecting the Commonwealth Light Heavyweight Championship along the way.
Then, he met Nathan Cleverly for the WBO Light Heavyweight Crown in October 2011. Despite going the distance and giving a good account of himself — even scoring a draw on one judge’s scorecard — the majority decision went to Cleverly.
In his next five fights after the loss, Tony Bellew would score two knockouts, one draw, and four victories, one of which came against Isaac Chilemba, with whom he shared the draw.
It wasn’t until Bellew met Adonis Stevenson for the Lineal Light Heavyweight Championship in November of 2013 that he would taste his first and only lopsided loss.
Stevenson, who continues to hold the title, has lost only once in the first part of his career. Since that time, he has gone on a 14-fight winning streak, and one of those wins was a TKO victory over Tony Bellew in the sixth round of their bout.
However, that could have been helped in small part due to Bellew’s difficulty making weight. While not believing it affected the outcome of the fight — and giving Stevenson full credit for the victory — he discussed those weight-cutting issues with the Liverpool Echo and said it ultimately convinced him to move up to cruiserweight.
“I am going to make my cruiserweight debut at world class level,” Bellew told the news site in 2014.
“The top and bottom of it is that I had to lose four pounds on the day of the weigh-in for the Stevenson fight. With eight weeks to go I was 10 pounds over the limit and the weight was coming down nicely. But it got to a point, when I was in America, and the weight wasn’t budging and it killed me towards the end of camp. I went through hell.”
Since making the jump, Tony Bellew has not disappointed. He won the WBO International belt in a clash with Valery Brudov and avenged one of his two losses against Cleverly in November 2014.
That has placed him on a crash course with Mateusz Masternak for the EBU Cruiserweight Title on Dec. 12, even as his motion picture debut scores big at the box office and breathes life into a classic franchise.
If you want to see just how intimidating and, at the same time likable, this new Rocky villain is, check out this video where he discusses getting the role.
What did you think about Tony Bellew as the latest Rocky villain, or the first Creed villain? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Warner Bros.]