AFTER his confrontation with David Haye at a press conference in the Dorchester hotel, Tony Bellew sits calmly in a sideroom, relishing his March 4 showdown with this latest antagonist.

Bellew, once a light-heavy, is stepping up from cruiserweight to take on a former heavyweight champion in Haye at the O2 in London. “I am better by a country mile than the last two clowns he fought, that is not me disputing, that is just fact. That is fact. I am the hardest fight David Haye has had since Wladimir Klitschko. There is nobody he’s beaten [since] who’s better than me. That is not up for debate,” Tony argued.

The two nearly came to blows when they went head to head for the cameras. “When we got close he looked rattled and he looked nervous,” Bellew insisted. “I didn’t take the step to engage him. I was happy to stand there and tell him a few home truths. That was going through my mind. Then he put his nose on my face, invading my space, so I pushed him. Then he punched me on the side of my head.”

“The whole world’s seen it,” Bellew continued. “And if that’s the best he’s got on March 4, he’s in a world of trouble. Because if you’re landing a punch and it does absolutely nothing with no gloves on, with gloves on you’ve got a problem.”

“He’s thrown a sly left hook,” the Liverpudlian declared. “He just clipped me and hit me on the back of the ear.

“I’m not vulnerable at this weight. He’s not going to do me with one shot.”

Bellew however insists he does not relish the notoriety of incidents like this. “I do not think that is good for marketing. I think that has put boxing in a bad light. That’s not because of me. I’m not happy. I’m ashamed of that,” he said. “They’re going to think we’re thugs now. And I’m not a thug.

“There’s a reason you move on in life.”