Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Tony Bellew - Joseph Parker 'lesser of the champions'

Joseph Parker, like the world's other elite heavyweights, would likely view a fight against Tony Bellew as lucrative and relatively risk free. / Photo: Photosport
Joseph Parker, like the world's other elite heavyweights, would likely view a fight against Tony Bellew as lucrative and relatively risk free. / Photo: Photosport

Tony Bellew, still on a high from his upset victory over David Haye, has analysed his next potential opponents and has described Kiwi Joseph Parker, the WBO world heavyweight title holder, as the "lesser of the other champions".

Parker, in camp in Las Vegas for his mandatory defence against Hughie Fury at Auckland's Vector Arena on May 6, is likely to view Bellew's comments with amusement, but also possibly with a rising sense of irritation.

"He's a shorter, solid fighter," Bellew told Sky Sports UK. "[Parker is] a throwback to the old heavyweight days. He's not your modern-day giant of a heavyweight. He's big and he's solid, but I think he is the lesser of the other champions.

"I still think he's a brilliant fighter, he's very good at what he does, but he is not as good as Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder."

Bellew, a cruiserweight world champion who went up a weight to fight Haye, and his promoter Eddie Hearn, called out Parker after the fight in London and there will be a feeling among the elite heavyweights that a fight with Bellew would be lucrative and relatively risk free.

After a poor first round, Haye, a 36-year-old former two-weight world champion, would have been leading the fight on the judges' scorecards until the sixth round when he ruptured his Achilles and was effectively fighting on one leg. Before that Haye looked like an ageing fighter past his best - still relatively powerful, but slow with hands and feet.

Bellew, who had punched himself into near exhaustion, eventually won with a TKO in the 11th round.

The Englishman rated American WBC world champion Deontay Wilder as a real threat, saying: He's extremely explosive and powerful. Leaky defence and exactly what it says on the tin - wild at times. But an exceptional fighter, very fast, someone I rate highly.

"He's a heavyweight champion of the world and I'm the best heavyweight outside the champions, so make of that what you will. I don't know what else I can say about it.

Bellew, who would like to fight one more heavyweight - and possibly at Wembley Stadium - rates Tyson Fury, the cousin of Hughie, highly.

"Let's not forget what he did in Germany [in beating Wladimir Klitschko]," Bellew said. "He did the unthinkable, no one gave him a hope, and he went there and did it.

"A man who has fought the odds like me, we're champions of the misfits. He doesn't aesthetically look very beautiful, similar to me, but the man can fight - he can really, really fight.

"If everything goes well and he passes everything he needs to pass, then it's a fight that can potentially happen, yes it is."

- NZ Herald

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