‘I'm absolutely petrified’: Boxer Tony Bellew on Everton's final game of the season

Tony Bellew
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Tony Bellew may have knocked out some of the most feared fighters in his sport, but the former WBC cruiserweight world champion is feeling “petrified” of this weekend’s massive game with Bournemouth at Goodison Park.

Fellow Premier League strugglers Leicester City drew 0-0 with Newcastle United on Monday night, which means Sean Dyche’s men do at least have survival in their own hands. 

‘Bomber’, though, who KOd Ilunga Makabu in the biggest fight of his career at Goodison Park to win the WBC cruiserweight world title in 2016, still isn’t feeling too confident about the last game of the season.

“I’m absolutely petrified,” Bellew tells FourFourTwo. “It’s nothing unusual being petrified as Everton fan, but I’m absolutely scared to death.”

The Toffees are one of just six English clubs never to have been relegated from the Premier League since its formation in 1992. 

However, the five-time FA Cup winners have flirted with the drop on a number of occasions, last season being one of those, when they finished four points above the drop zone. 

A fortnight ago, the man from Toxteth was feeling rather more optimistic after his beloved Blues had put five past Brighton at the Amex Stadium.

However, after getting “pumped” by Manchester City and scraping a draw at a “very poor” Wolves – the equaliser of which came in the 99th minute – Bellew is once again fearing the worst.

“I’m very downbeat, shall we say – it’s just so hard,” he adds, before launching into a rant about the club and where he feels it’s all gone wrong over the last six years, and since the “brilliant” David Moyes’ departure a decade ago.

Everton fans have let their increasing frustration show this season

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“The revolving door of managers has been going on now for six years – it’s a joke,” he says. “I’m fed up. I’m so sick of blaming managers. Everyone needs to be held more accountable.

“You couldn’t write it. Everton Football Club has spent the best part of £600 million and from the minute they started spending that to where they are now, they’ve got worse. It could only happen to Everton.

“You sell your most prolific striker, Richarlison, and don’t replace him and heigh-ho, guess what, here we are again.

“If you keep buying players who have been relegated, you’re going to end up getting relegated yourself. 

“So you go into Sunday thinking, this has been coming for a while. I’m just praying this isn’t the year it happens.” 

Tony Bellew

"I could just move to Portugal, it’s got enough golf clubs." (Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Two teams from Everton, Leicester and Leeds will join the already-relegated Southampton in the Championship next season when the final whistle goes on Sunday.

Everton, who currently sit on 33 points, know victory against the Cherries will secure their Premier League status, and a draw could be good enough. 

Should the Toffees draw their final match, they will be relying on other results to go their way in the two other key relegation matches - Leicester (31 points) versus West Ham and Leeds (31 points) versus Tottenham.

And although Everton are favourites to stay up, Bellew has been carefully planning what he will do should his club fail to do the job.

“If Everton Football Club go down, no one is ever going to see me ever again. I’m on the first space ship out,” he says.

“I just couldn’t take it. I’m genuinely not joking. I could just move to Portugal, it’s got enough golf clubs. I’ve already spotted a place in Vilamoura.”

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Michael Weston is a journalist who has worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. He has also been a regular contributor to Golf Monthly since 2008, interviewing many of golf's biggest stars, including six world number ones.