Tony Bellew has spoken to Britishboxers.co.uk to reiterate his belief that, as of last week, his managerial and promotional contracts with Frank Warren and Frank Warren Promotions Limited came to an end at his request and that he is a free agent who can explore his options with other promotional outfits. Bellew sent out written notification of the change in his status, prompting a swift response from FWP, who claimed that the fighter is still tied to them via a statement that they sent to The ECHO newspaper
‘Tony Bellew has a legally binding and exclusive promotional agreement with Frank Warren Promotions Ltd,’ stated FWP. ‘In addition to that he has a British Boxing Board of Control Boxer-Manager agreement with Frank Warren. Tony Bellew is not at liberty to determine either contract without going through the proper channels as per the terms of those agreements. Unless and until he brings a successful challenge then they remain in full force and effect. Needless to say, any attempt to ignore either binding agreement or to pre-determine the same will be defended by Frank Warren and Frank Warren Promotions Ltd.’
As stated above, Warren insists that he has a managerial contract in place with the Liverpudlian, who regained the British title he vacated in order to challenge for Nathan Cleverly’s WBO 175 belt last October by beating Danny McIntosh last month, but Bellew firmly believes that his future is now in his own hands.
“I’m a free agent, whether Frank wants to accept that or not – he’s got no choice in it,” said Bellew, 17-1 (11), when speaking to me over the phone on Monday. “It is a massive decision, but I’ve been left to rot on the shelf. I had no choice but to do this because I’ve got a family to feed.
“I have to look after number one and prioritize a bit now in my career. If it comes to a fight then I’ll fight because I believe I wasn’t being looked after and my people can prove that, so I expect a fair hearing and to be treated fairly. I am confident. I know that my case will be heard very fairly and thoroughly. All we need to do is come with the facts – that is it.
“I can’t get into a lot of things right now, but things will come out in the end. There are things that go on in boxing that are great for the promoter, not so great for the boxer, and that’s got to change.”
Bellew was ringside at the Nottingham Arena for Carl Froch’s win over Lucian Bute on Saturday night. The 29-year-old roared “The Cobra” on prompting rumours that “Bomber” is destined to sign with Matchroom. Bellew, though, warned people against adding two and two together and coming up with five.
“I was there on Saturday, as everyone could see, because I was there to support Carl Froch,” said Bellew. “It was great to see Carl win, but you also saw how passionate this guy Eddie Hearn is about his fighters. It is heart warming to see a guy who cares about his fighters, it really is.
“I speak to Carl on many occasions. Carl doesn’t look at Eddie as a business partner, he looks at him as someone he can pick the phone up and speak to – I want that type of relationship with someone.”
Bellew reiterated his position before signing off: “I’m a free agent. I can speak to anyone I want to – it is that simple.”
As for Hearn, the Matchroom man recently helped Coldwell Promotions secure a Sky Sports slot for Bellew’s win over McIntosh. Hearn told BoxingScene that Bellew’s support on Saturday night stemmed from the British champion’s bond with Froch, which was instilled during sparring sessions over the last year.
“Tony is very close to Carl,” said Hearn during a recent conversation. “I had the pleasure of working with him on the recent Liverpool [ECHO Arena] show. He’s a great guy, a great fighter and he’s obviously said he has terminated his agreement with Frank Warren, and is looking to move on.”
He added: “Any promoter would love the chance to work with him. The broadcasters love Tony because he is a very good talker, but he is also respectful, knows a lot about the game and looks the part, so he is the full package.”
Warren is likely to point out that he guided Bellew to British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight belts plus a “top four” title crack. Indeed, WBO titlist Nathan Cleverly, who is also tied to Warren, today stated that he will accommodate Bellew’s calls for a rematch and FWP will no doubt try to make that bout a reality in a bid to repair a relationship that looks to be irreparable.
The most likely scenario is that Bellew and FWP will have to quickly come to an agreement over their polarized positions in order reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion and draw a line under the dispute so that all the parties concerned can move on.