TONY BELLEW would rather fight someone like David Haye, who he “detests”, than someone he has a friendship with.
The outspoken pair have produced a red-hot build-up to their heavyweight clash in London this weekend, frequently allowing their bad blood to boil over during media appearances.
Having had experience of a bitter rivalry already – with Wales’ Nathan Cleverly – Bellew knows why he would rather fight an enemy than someone like Dereck Chisora, an old friend he has used for sparring in this camp.
“I fought another guy who I detest more than him [Haye] and shared a stage with him,” he said.
“I’d rather fight a fella I absolutely detest than someone who I think is a nice guy. I don’t like fighting my mates. ‘Del Boy’ [Chisora] said something to me crazy, he said after you beat him you can fight me and I said are you nuts? You’re my mate. I don’t need to fight people who I like.”
Numerous press conferences and public displays of animosity have been staged to promote the pay-per-view contest and yesterday a media-only conference in London became the tamest of the lot.
However, it did end with a three-and-a-half minute face off – although the pair were split by security the entire time – but Bellew knows such posing will play no part on fight night.
“Do I take something from it? 100 per cent. Will it play a part on Saturday, will it f***,” he mused.
“He’ll still fight like crazy. It’s just nice to look in his eyes and see what he’s feeling, and he really doesn’t believe what he’s saying.
“I just looked at him. The eyes don’t lie. It’s nonsense, it means nothing. The only thing that matters is Saturday night.
“If he was fighting anyone else in the world above my weight, he’d have pulled out. For the first time in my life I’m facing someone who needs a pound note more than me.
Though hot-tempered Bellew has dished out his fair share of insults and warnings, it is Haye who has repeatedly crossed the line during this promotion, vowing to permanently “damage” Bellew.
He refuses to apologise, insisting that he is not fussed about public opinion, but Bellew has ensured his family are not around to hear the pre-fight slander by sending them away to Dubai.
“They don’t need to hear it. This guy says things that are just disgusting and he’s a disgrace to British boxing. He takes things a step too far. I’m not here to hurt anyone, I’m here to win,” he said.
“He’s shamed himself. He isn’t boxing, let’s be honest. It’d be different if it was Floyd Mayweather was saying these things because he’s the most well-known boxer in the whole world. We’re talking about a man who’s just as known for his stints in the jungle as he is for his boxing. He’s a celebrity boxer, he comes back to the sport when he’s skint and he runs off again when he’s made enough.
“I would never talk about hurting another fighter. There’s been some bad things happen in this sport, scary things. Understand this, the first thing I’m fighting for when I get in that ring is my life.
“A man threatening me with his fists is never going to intimidate me or scare me.”