Tony Bellew has poured scorn on rival Nathan Cleverly, saying that his British light heavyweight title fight with Danny McIntosh in The Big Bang at the Echo Arena Liverpool on April 13 live on Sky Sports is tougher than the opponents Nathan Cleverly has faced for his World title.
Bellew defends his British strap against the former European champion in his first fight since the epic battle with Cleverly for the WBO belt in the same venue in October, and the 30 year-old has been far from impressed with the names on Nathans record since their clash, with a routine points win over little known American Tommy Karpency now followed by an April 28 date with Germanys Robin Krasniqi.
I'm the one coming off the loss, but I'm fighting a better opponent than him, said Bellew. Anyone in the game knows that a former European champion is a threat and a McIntosh is a good boxer because his credentials don't lie. Cleverly beat McIntosh three years ago but they were both novices then and they have both come on miles since then. I'm fighting the best version of McIntosh, he's got more experience now and he's travelled away from home to win the title, stopping Thierry Karl in his backyard. He's got a lot of ambition and a lot left to offer, and I'm not in the game to knock over jobsworths.
If I'd won the Cleverly fight, I would not have been fighting Tommy Karpency. Everybody knows that I would have been thrust into a rematch and I would have been happy with that, so why not one for me? But I don't want to fight the Tommy Karpency's of this world, he's a tough guy and I've got lots of respect for that, but I wouldn't want to kill myself in training camps to beat some guy up who is just going to put his hands in front of his head for 12 rounds.
The 29 year old is keen to move on from the disappointment of dropping the majority decision against Cleverly but maintains that he felt the decision could have gone his way that night and that the 25 year old has shied away from a rematch.
I thought I won the fight it was razor tight and could have gone either way, said Bellew. I did more than him, landed the harder punches and the cleaner punches and had better technique too. So I believe I won it and I'll take that to the grave with me. But regardless of that, I was told from day one that if it was a close fight in any way we would have an immediate rematch. As you've seen and heard that's not happening, it's Bernard Hopkins this and Bernard Hopkins that, and at the end of the day, he's not on his level in my opinion. I feel a mistreated but you've got to get on with things and I don't need Nathan Cleverly to progress in my career, and he'll need me before I need him.
The first step back to a second World title tilt begins with McIntosh, and Bellew believes victory against the Norwich man could lead to a shot at the European title next.
I've said from day one it's a dream to be European champion. I've been an underdog my whole life, I wasn't supposed to win my first ABA title but I upset the odds then and it's been the same in the pro game, I've not had it easy or had anything given to me on a plate, and I wouldn't want it that way, so I don't see the point of fighting people who you are fully expected to beat. Fights like Karpency are a step back and I want to keep moving forward.
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