Tony Bellew is aware of the seriousness of his fight with David Haye and has made a public call for Liverpool and Everton fans to unite behind him in support.
The two are set to face each other in London’s O2 arena on March 4, but the event already seems to have reached boiling point after their recent altercation during a press conference, in which Haye seemed to throw a punch at the Liverpudlian.
Bellew accused his opponent of “losing his marbles” following the incident, but understands the mammoth task he faces.
The 34-year-old said: "Haye is already looking three fights after me, but I don't look beyond him.
"Boxing is a dangerous sport and this could be my last fight ever. This could be the last time I step between the ropes - I understand the seriousness of what's involved."
Bellew added: "One punch can change everything. One punch and I might not wake up - that's how serious boxing is and we've both got the power to do that to each other," the veteran pointing towards recent post-match injuries suffered by Nick Blackwell and Eduard Gutknecht, both of whom were hospitalised earlier this month.
Haye seems to have instigated this do-or-die factor into the occasion after he accused "Bomber's" team of "putting their fighter's life on the line" by creating this fight and has also warned that his opponent could end up in the hospital.
Bellew branded these claims as being "distasteful and disgusting", but also acknowledged the fact that these comments came out of appreciation of his courage.
The Scouser commented: “All the stuff he is talking about – putting me in a hospital bed and all that – is sour and distasteful because there are lads who have been in hospital recently after fights and I think it’s disgusting.
“He’s basically saying I’m going to a hospital bed and do you know why I’m saying that? Because he knows I’m brave enough to go there."
The cruiserweight boxer further said: “If it gets hard he’ll run and whinge and he won’t fight. When it gets hard, David Haye doesn’t want to know. When the going gets tough, David gets going. That’s why he’s retired from boxing twice.”
This will be Bellew's first fight in the heavyweight division, but the Brit has shown no concerns in facing Haye, who is a former cruiserweight himself.
Haye has retired from the sport twice and has only taken part in two fights since 2012.
The 36-year-old's inactivity and lavish lifestyle provides Bellew with a source of optimism for their encounter in March.
Bellew commented on his opponent's chances: “This is definitely not the cruiserweight David Haye that everyone should fear. This is the partied out, nightclub version of David Haye."
However, the "Bomber" is well aware of his opponent's strengths, saying: “But at the same time he’s absolutely lethal for four rounds. He’s deadly for four rounds and I’m under no illusions.
“But I’ll tell you this now – I’ll go on record saying it – I will not run from anybody. At this weight I can absorb more and I can dish out more. I will not run from anyone and I don’t fear anyone and he just understood that when he looked in my face.
Tickets for the matchup were sold out in minutes despite no title being up for the grabs.
Bellew is optimistic about his chances, especially due to his top level experience.
He said: "I've been there, seen it, done it and got the t-shirt and I've won. There was only one world champion in that room and that was me.
"I was gutted for Stephen (Smith) last week but this is not about anyone else this is about Tony Bellew fulfilling another chapter in the book, another dream.
"I iron this f***** out on March 4, there is a new sheriff in town, there is a new king of boxing."
It appears that Bellew only won part of the negotiations - the date of the contest - and has labelled Haye as "the biggest diva in boxing" for his unreasonable demands.
"It'll be more my backyard than his," he said.
"It’s no coincidence that David Haye wanted February 4 and I wanted March 4…I knew that Everton had Tottenham away that day so I knew thousands of us would already be here."
The 34-year-old has called on everyone from his hometown to unite behind him for this fight and has urged Liverpool and Everton fans to put their rivalry aside for a day to support him.
He concluded: “(But) take away Liverpool, take away Everton, Scousers is what we are first and Scousers can expect a new sheriff to be in town on March 4. There’s going to be a new king around in BOXING. It’s out with the old, in with the new."
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