By Shaun Brown
It’s just one more obstacle before Tony Bellew 21-2-1 (13 KOs) finally gets the fight he’s desperately wanted since 15 Oct 2011 when Nathan Cleverly defeated him on points to successfully defend his WBO light heavyweight title in front of the challenger’s home support.
Almost three years on and both men now find themselves at cruiserweight after painful losses at 175lbs to Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev respectively. This Saturday night at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, the venue where Bellew lost to Cleverly, the two British rivals have their second outing at their new weight. The 26-2 (23 KOs) Julio Cesar Dos Santos is one of the men tasked with making sure the long awaited rematch never happens when he takes on Bellew for the WBO International Cruiserweight title.
As ever, Bellew was in a confident and lively mood when ‘Scene caught up with him a few days ago.
“If he’s not in my league then I feel sorry for him because he’ll get absolutely punished and punished heavily,” he said of his Brazilian opponent.
“I know he’s tough, I know he’s basic, I know he’s strong, never been stopped and takes a hell of a shot which I’ve seen on a number of occasions. He just looks pretty basic and solid, doesn’t do anything outstanding. He looks reasonably heavy handed but let’s see how he looks when my hands hit him.”
Bellew gave credit to new coach, Dave Coldwell for increasing his punching power during this camp and for most of the last one before he fought Valery Brudov in March, after splitting with long-time trainer, Mick McAllister.
“I just kept it to myself,” said Bellew after his association with McCallister ended. “My business and my goings-on. I don’t like putting my laundry out for everyone to see. I just get on with things.
“I’ve had a fantastic grounding, I’m a Rotunda ABC (Bellew’s old amateur club) boy through and through and I’ll be forever indebted to them and the shape that they got me in. Dave has had made adjustments, Dave has put his stamp on me and its working, it really is.”
Coldwell told Boxing Scene late last month that he we was focusing on ‘intellectual bombing’ with Bellew. He wanted his Liverpudlian charge to return to being confident when using his power shots, how to set them up, what to throw and in what direction.
“I just like to say he’s told me how to hit people a bit harder,” Bellew joked.
Then with seriousness, ‘Bomber’ said: “Technique is everything to Dave and using the right technique in your punching is everything to him. I’ve implemented that into my game and I’ll say this, I’m a lot more patient these days in the way I set things up. I’m not as eager to give people a smack on the chops as I was in the past. I’ve always thought if I can hit them in any way even if the technique isn’t there I can get them out of there. But nowadays I do set up things up. I’m patient, my defence has improved. I’ve got a lot of things to thank Dave for.”
Patience will be vital for Bellew in the build-up to his rematch with Cleverly, which looks like taking place sometime in the autumn. And should both come through their bouts on Sat night then the fans, the TV, the pundits and their promoters, Matchroom, will turn their attentions to a good old-fashioned British grudge match.
“He [Cleverly] doesn’t interest me till Saturday’s over and then my full attention will go to him and he’ll know that as well.
“It’s going to happen, it’s got to happen. He wants money and there’s no-one else besides me for him. I’m not bothered about the money I just want to take his head off because I can’t stand him. It’s gonna happen 100%. I’ll come through Saturday, I can absolutely guarantee that. I’m not too sure about him, I hope he does. I’ll be praying he does.”
Shaun Brown is the UK Editor at Boxing Scene and a contributor to Boxing Monthly. He can be contacted at email@example.com with any news, views or stories you may have.