World Boxing Organization (WBO) world light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly says he expects a rematch with former foe Tony Bellew to happen in the future and it’s potential is too big not to happen again.
In October Cleverly traveled to Bellew’s backyard, defeating the Scouser via a Majority Decision in a candidate for Fight Of The Year. On Saturday Bellew defended his British title by defeating former European champion Danny McIntosh and he followed it up by claiming he wanted a rematch with the Welshman.
Cleverly responded, “I expected him to call me out; it’s a fight that I want again whether he called me out or not. The last fight was an excellent fight and a real top class fight. A rematch is too big not to happen again in the future!”
He continued, “I’d like the fight again because I want to put the record straight and there’s a lot of public demand for a rematch. A lot of people are asking for it, it’s a fight that I want to give to the fans and myself and show again that I’m the best in Britain.”
For the first fight at the Echo Arena , Bellew claimed it was there because he had a following of 10,000 people but Cleverly believes Bellew needs him to re-do those numbers.
He talked figures, “When I fought Bellew there were 10,000 people in the Echo Arena, when he fights McIntosh there’s only a few thousand (3,000) people there and when I fought Karpency at the C.I.A in Cardiff there was a sell-out capacity crowd (5,000).”
“It just shows that a lot more hype is generated around my fights. I think myself and Bellew, especially after the first fight which was an excellent fight, have now got potential to sell out a stadium. The selling power of that fight will be superb and it’s inevitable.” said Cleverly.
“When you have a look at the past, with the likes of Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank, mine and Tony Bellew’s rivalry could eclipse that in the future. We’ve got a great rivalry and we can both fight to back it up. I’m an undefeated fighter and I’m only 25 years of age so there’s so much more to come from me and someone like Tony Bellew brings out the best in me.”
The first fight captured the public’s imagination due to several high profile comments and incidents between the pair, since then Bellew has continued to publicly insult Cleverly who’s remained tight lipped about it until now.
He said, “I’ve not bothered getting involved in any bravado since the fight. I went to Liverpool, in his backyard at only 24 years of age and walked the walk. I won the fight and decided to leave it at that, I didn’t bother mouthing off after the fight and rubbing it in Bellew’s face.”
“Obviously I’ve had a lot of it back though, I’ve heard he’s still talking a lot and having a dig at me but I just wanted to by-pass that and not get involved because I’d rather leave it all for the boxing ring.”
Admitting that it comes with the territory, Cleverly continued, “We always will have a rivalry because we’re in the same weight division with the same aims. I’ve got a world title and I’ll always be a target for him and any other fighter, I’ve got to keep it and it’s inevitable that I’ll be sought after, I expect that and enjoy the mantle of that.”
Many critics commented that Bellew’s destruction of McIntosh on Saturday was a career best win and it’s a notion Cleverly agreed with. He complimented Bellew, saying, “I thought he performed excellent. From the first bell he looked sharp, hungry, focused. Technically he looked good and he just took McIntosh apart because he’s a different level.”
Now 25, at 21 Cleverly travelled to London to fight McIntosh on a rival promoters show and 3 weeks notice – he knocked McIntosh down 4 times en-route to a 7th round stoppage win and he believes it’s performances like these that show his and Bellew’s capability.
“We’ve both done a good job on Danny McIntosh, who’s a good fighter and that just shows the level that myself and Bellew are on and where we belong. There’s no doubt that we’re world level fighters.”
Whether they meet in the ring again remains to be seen but Cleverly has put the court back into Bellew’s court. Something for sure though is that it won’t be Cleverly’s next fight which he says should be a big fight.
Cleverly commented, “It’s looking like it could be my mandatory fight next, if not it’s a unification fight so my next fight is guaranteed to be a big fight. We’ll see what the score is soon, I’m definitely open to options. I just want to be involved in good fights against the best.”
Promoter of both, Frank Warren, said on Sunday that “There are lots of options out there for Nathan” and “We are talking other names or the WBO may order a mandatory defence, I don’t know yet.”
However, Warren said that it’s Bellew who’s making a rematch unlikely.
He said, “I had a lengthy discussion with Nathan about Bellew but Tony says he doesn’t want to fight on BoxNation.”
“I don’t understand that. Bellew is still under contract and I delivered him a world title fight in his home town and I promised if it was a close fight there could be a rematch.
“It’s one of those fights that can and should be made but it would have to be on our channel.”