By Joe Delaney, courtesy of The Daily Star
WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly was headbutted by arch-rival Tony Bellew when their paths crossed at a recent press conference.
Bellew showed no remorse and even promised to attack his rival again if he upset him before the unbeaten pair clash at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on October 15.
Things might have turned even nastier had Frank Warren’s matchmaker Dean Powell and a beefy bouncer not separated the feuding duo when they posed for photos.
Scouser Bellew, 28, said: “He just got a bit too close to my face so I butted him. I won’t have any of that rubbish.
“I intimidate him and he is trying to come across like I don’t. If he comes too close I will punch his face right in.
“He was lucky I had two belts on my hands because I butted him and he stepped back.
“I’ll not be moved – that is me and what I am about.
“The one thing he can’t do to me is manhandle or bully me like he has 22 other fighters. He is going to get the fright of his life when my gloves touch his face and body.”
There has been bad blood between the boxers since Bellew agreed to fight the Welshman at 48 hours’ notice in May but pulled out when he could not make the 12st 7lb weight limit.
Cleverly, 24, dismissed the attack and believes Bellew poses little threat when he makes the second defence of his title in enemy territory.
The Welshman insists that Bellew is just a “stepping stone” before a unification bout against WBC and The Ring champion Bernard Hopkins.
He is also planning to retire from the sport within the next few years and added: “I am in the sport short term but while I am in boxing I am going to be exciting, remain unbeaten and get out at the top.
“I see myself having another six fights and it makes sense to gets this fight out of the way because it will not damage my career.”
Bellew, a former three-time ABA champion, has won all 16 professional fights and expects 10,000 fans to back him.
He warned: “I will go through brick walls or whatever to win.”