Cleverly overcame Bellew test

NATHAN CLEVERLY 23-0 (11 KO’s) believes he has proved that he is the real deal and a true world champion after his battling display to defeat Tony ‘Bomber’ Bellew 16-1 (10) in Liverpool on Saturday night.

Cleverly retained his WBO light-heavyweight belt by a majority decision against the battling Bellew in front of the Wavertree fighter’s home crowd at the Echo Arena. Both fighters slugged it out for most of the contest showing they could take the shots as much as they could give them out.

It had been an explosive build up which continued in the ring as momentum swung in both of the fighter’s favours throughout the bout. Cleverly looked to have sealed victory in the final rounds switching from his more central stance to fighting on the back foot and out-boxing Bellew as tiredness crept in.

In the post-fight press conference Cleverly told of how the fight had been his toughest and that he had proved himself as a world champion, “I knew it would be tough, it was one of if not the hardest fight I have had. Tony is one of the hungriest fighters there is, he had a massive crowd behind him. I have come through it and I think I have shown that I am a true world champion.”

The two fighters had a number of heated exchanges during the build-up sparked off by the confrontation they had at a pre-fight press conference when they were momentarily due to meet, it led to the last night’s grudge match but Cleverly revealed that he had other offers and only took the fight with Bellew because it was what the fans wanted, “I didn’t have to take this fight. There were other fighters out there but the fans wanted this one. So I decided to give Bellew his world title shot. I decided to take on a dangerous opponent in his own backyard and I have come through it.”

Cleverly and Bellew embraced at the final bell and raised their hands as the judges readied their scores. When questioned about if the animosity was still there between the two Cleverly denied there was any dislike, “It’s all part of the build-up, the dislike between us is gone. I think we now both respect each other. I felt before the fight he underestimated how good I am. I think he thought I would crumble under his punches.”

Frank Warren spoke before last night’s Bernard Hopkins Vs Chad Dawson fight and revealed a Millennium Stadium date with Hopkins was very much on the agenda if he could come through the fight with Dawson. The 42-year-old lost in controversial fashion in the second round to Dawson and while those ramblings may go on for a while, one of the opponents are very much in the mind of Cleverly, Warren said, “If Hopkins were to win we could maybe have set up a Millennium Stadium date for next summer. I think there will be one more fight in the new year before then. If they ever did meet Cleverly has what it takes to beat him very much like how Joe Calzaghe did, with speed.”

Warren praised both Bellew and Cleverly for what he thought was a fight at the highest level, “This was a world class fight, the level tonight was phenomenal. We knew they could punch but both showed they can take the big shots too. They both showed they didn’t want to lose this. There always had to be a loser. It is a shame in fights like this there is one- they both deserve a lot of credit.”

Greg Grimes


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