By Terence Dooley
Tony Bellew believes he made a serious statement of intent when hammering domestic light-heavyweight rival Danny McIntosh to defeat in five rounds on a Coldwell Promotions bill in Liverpool last night. Bellew successfully defended his British belt and moved to 17-1 (11) via a technical count out after downing McIntosh with a booming right hand, his sole defeat came courtesy of a majority decision loss to Nathan Cleverly for the WBO light-heavyweight title in October. “Bomber” has made no bones over his desire to secure a rematch with the Welshman.
For now, though, the 29-year-old is hoping for a quick return to the ring after handing McIntosh his third defeat, against 13 wins (7 KOs), and stopping the Norwich man earlier than Cleverly did when halting “Big Mac” in seven in 2009. Bellew believes that his recent fine form is down to his decision to reunite with his former amateur team of Mick McAllister and Mark Quinn after leaving previous trainer Anthony Farnell in January 2011.
“I'm happy, you know, it was a team performance without a shadow of a doubt,” said the former three-time ABA heavyweight titlist when speaking to BoxingScene.com. “It was a 14-week camp and I'm blessed to be surrounded by people who love me. He took some good shots, but I didn't load up on anything. I was calculated in what I was doing. I knew not to load up, it was about speed and doing a job.
“We'll see where it goes from here. I'll keep moving and keep striving to improve. I've been trying to hate Danny for the last weeks, but I just couldn't do it because he's a nice kid, has got a good chin and is tough – I can't take nothing away from him. We had A, B and C game plans. You've seen me fight Ingle fighters before and get frustrated, like I did against Bob Ajisafe [in September 2010], but the way I handled this one is down to my team.
“I was trying to make him miss, draw the lead and counter him so I wasn't falling in and making mistakes. The Ingle camp are experienced people. Dominic [Ingle, who trains McIntosh] is very experienced and Danny's had the experience of winning the European title [against Thierry Karl] away in France. I could hear them shouting, 'Remember what you did in France', and I thought, 'You're not in France tonight, mate, you're in Scouseland and in my backyard'. Getting hit by Thierry Karl and that clown in the valleys [Cleverly] is different than getting hit by me – Danny will tell you that.”
The Arena was set out for 35000 fans, 3000 attended on the night. Bellew was quick to thank the crowd for their support. “I’m humbled by the crowd,” Bellew's take on the turnout. “I don't know why people pay to see me fight because it is hard to earn a few quid and everyone's struggling. It is crazy that people go to work then pay their money to come and see me fight. The only difference between you and me is that I get paid to punch people in the head.”
As for Cleverly, Bellew still feels aggrieved over his narrow defeat to the WBO titlist. Scores of 117-112, 116-113 and 114-114 ensured that the Cefn Forest man kept hold of his crown after a thrilling fight. Now barely able to bring himself to say Cleverly's name, Bellew blasted his domestic rival for taking on Tommy Karpency in February and then trying to line up Robin Krasniqi for tonight's bill at the Royal Albert Hall – although the bout was scrapped on April 17 after Cleverly picked up a virus during his training camp.
“I don't need him,” growled Bellew as talk turned to Cleverly. “You've seen who he is fighting – I'm fighting a former European champion despite coming off a loss. He took on Karpency then he's lining up a fight that wasn't getting sanctioned [by the WBO], then got sanctioned and is now off.”
He added: “I'm not in the game to fight people who I'm just going to blow away in a few rounds. What is the point of training if you know you're going to have a walk in the park. I want challenges, I wants tests and I want to move on. I push myself in the gym and want to see how far my determination and courage will take me.
“We've a good European champion in [Eduard] Gutknecht and I'd be happy to go over to Germany as I know a load of Evertonians who would come and support me. It would be a dream come true and then who knows, maybe a world title. I don't claim to be the next Chad Dawson or Bernard Hopkins, what I do claim is that I am ready for the guys at a level below like Tavoris Cloud, Beibut Shumenov and that clown from Wales. We'll take our time and make a team decision because a man who makes decisions on his own is a man who makes mistakes.
“I just want to stay active. I've got a family to feed. I've got to be out sooner rather than later. It is no secret that this is what I want. I'll take it in my stride, people know I'm outspoken and ambitious – I say what is on my mind. I'm supposed to have a manager, I'm supposed to have a promoter, but I didn't get a call from either [on Friday] night to wish me luck, so it is what it is.”
Bellew has made no secret of his anger at losing out on an immediate rematch with Cleverly. With no sign of the return on the immediate horizon, the Liverpudlian may have to find another route to a world title.
He said: “Boxing is a short lived sport, you have to look after yourself and I told myself that when I first came into the sport. It is not just a business to me, people say that it is, but for me it is my life and my livelihood – it is what feeds me and my kids. When people say it is just business they make a massive understatement and do a personal disservice to me.
“I don't define myself by Cleverly. Before that fight I was promised a rematch if it was close [Writer's note: Both men were allegedly promised a return in the event of a close fight]. You don't get much closer than that fight. If I'd have got it then I'd have fought him in a rematch by now. I'm not happy, I'm not being looked after and I don't think I'm being shown the same love.
“How many press releases go out in the space of a week from Frank Warren Promotions – I'd say it is more than any one else out there. There hasn't been one released about me for six-months. It is a busy organisation, press releases go out every day, but there's none going out with my name on them.”
Bellew made a triumphant return to Sky Sports last night. Eddie Hearn of Matchroom brought the broadcaster onboard to boost the Coldwell show and ensure that the main event had TV coverage. The fighter feels that Sky's wider subscription base trumps that of rival station BoxNation, which televised Cleverly-Bellew, and he was quick to point out that regular appearances on the network can help bring in the general sporting public rather than just catering to hardcore fans.
“With the right amount of time, the right amount of profile and with Sky Sports behind me there is every possibility that I could become someone,” he said. “I don't know how far I can go, but I want to give it a go and raise my profile – I can't do that on a channel which gets less views than my Twitter page.”
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