Hearn: If Bellew beats Haye, Joshua could be next

Tony Bellew can propel himself into contention for a world title fight with Anthony Joshua by defeating David Haye, says promoter Eddie Hearn.

The Merseysider has stepped up a division for his heavyweight grudge fight with Haye at The O2 on March 4, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

Bellew is the current WBC cruiserweight champion, but Hearn admits it will be hard to convince the 34-year-old to move back down if he beats his bitter rival.

Another huge domestic clash with Joshua is the No 1 target for Haye, although Bellew could rip up these plans and put himself forward as a replacement opponent for the IBF heavyweight champion.

"There is a potential for a David Haye fight right now, so if someone beats him then you have to think that person comes into the mix as well," Hearn told Sky Sports.

"If Tony Bellew beats David Haye, he becomes a huge name and it would be very difficult for him to return to the cruiserweight division, because of the fights available to him in the heavyweight division.

"He feels like if he beats Haye it's going to open the doors for him in the heavyweight division as well.

"He's in the final stages of his career. Not as in this is his last fight, but probably last five or six fights, so he's looking at the biggest fights possible to bow out on. Obviously, they would be in the heavyweight division rather than the cruiserweight division."