Bellew eyes Hollywood ending
Having appeared in a hit "Rocky" film, Tony Bellew is trying to ensure there is a Hollywood ending to his boxing career.
The 34-year-old, who had an acting role in the 2015 "Rocky" spin-off "Creed", will put himself in contention for a world heavyweight title shot if he upsets the odds against fellow Briton David Haye on Saturday in London.
Bellew is slightly embarrassed about his part alongside Sylvester Stallone in "Creed" and says that when he got the call to ask if he was interested in appearing in the film he thought it was a prank.
"It's very strange," he told AFP. "I'm just a little scally (roguish) kid from Liverpool who's been in a 'Rocky' movie, has won the world (cruiserweight) title and now lives in a seven-bedroom house.
"I'm living the dream. It's like a messed-up fairytale and it shouldn't really have happened.
"'Rocky' made a huge impact on me and my career, as it has with others. Everyone wants to be a boxer after they see those films, but only a few get to really experience what it's like."
Bellew is unashamedly rough around the edges and his character in the film, which won rave reviews, is very much him as he really is.
"It's not like they were asking me to play the role of a doctor or surgeon, but to play the role of myself," he said.
"Boxing is all I know."
Bellew (28-2-1, 22 KOs) is uncertain whether there will be any more acting roles after his turn in the seventh "Rocky" movie, but says he remains in touch with the people behind the franchise .
"Warner Brothers contact me every now and again. It's very strange for someone like me. I can't believe I've actually done it," he said.
"I still speak to MBJ (lead star Michael B Jordan) – we're good mates – and Sly (Stallone) texts me now and again."
'I HATE FAME'
Bellew's bit-part role in the film is increasingly becoming a footnote to his career, however.
After losing world light-heavyweight title fights against Adonis Stevenson and Nathan Cleverly, he won the WBC cruiserweight title last year in circumstances that strongly recalled his acting debut.
In "Creed", Bellew plays a character who fights for the world title in his home city of Liverpool.
Life imitated art when Bellew got to fight for the vacant WBC crown in front of his home fans at Goodison Park, home of his beloved Everton Football Club, in May last year.
In a dramatic and brief encounter, Bellew climbed off the canvas to knock out Ilunga Makabu in the third round.
After making quick work of American BJ Flores in October, Bellew jumped out of the ring to call out a startled Haye, who was ringside as a television pundit.
Bellew says the pair are very different and is uncompromising in his criticism of 36-year-old Haye, whose crude verbal jibes have made for a deeply acrimonious build-up to the bout at London's O2 Arena.
"What makes him tick doesn't make me tick," Bellew said.
"I've only got a short shelf life in this game and it's about maximising your potential. When it's done I will happily glide off. I hate cameras, I hate fame, but he loves all that.
"I just keep trying as hard as I can. I'm not the most talented, but I've got a huge, huge heart."
Haye, the former world heavyweight and cruiserweight champion, is the favourite, but Bellew is relishing the opportunity to cut him down to size.
"I have manners and I'm a lot more grounded than this clown is," he said.
"I've seen this guy reject people for photographs. I've seen that with my own eyes."