By Elliot Foster
Tony Bellew fought through adversity to make a dream come true. The Liverpool cruiserweight stopped Ilunga Makabu inside three rounds at Goodison Park to claim the vacant WBC title, exclusively live on Sky Sports.
Bellew walked to the ring to a vociferous cauldron of noise at the home of his beloved Everton Football Club but got off to a disastrous start as he was decked in the opening round.
The opener was relatively comfortable for the home fighter, as he visibly rocked the visitor, before Makabu landed a hard left hand, sending ‘Bomber’ to the canvas.
Despite the early need for a rallying call from the Bellew camp, he got back to his game plan in the second round and got within a point of the action.
And it was the third round which ultimately proved to be the last.
Bellew now has the world at his feet after stopping Makabu, who was in need of medical attention, following a barrage of left and right hands to the body and head.
Afterwards, he said: “Nothing was going to stop me tonight. I can't put it into words. My son's never been to a fight. I cried in the dressing room because he broke my heart when I looked at his little face - he looks like his mother.
"I am world champion. That's what I am. All I do is I believe in my coach and all these people around me. My family. I do it all for them. The only thing I really have to say: 'Everton...' The last time I saw that, I was in a Hollywood movie and now it's real.”
Many thought the idea of a world title win at Goodison Park would be a dream for Bellew, but the sensational ending ensured life imitated art and the dream came true.
"I lived a dream tonight,” he continued. “I'm the best cruiserweight in the world. Denis Lebedev - I'm not coming to Russia. Come and get this because I've got the main belt now.”
Now Bellew has his sights set on a showdown with former two division world champion David Haye. Bellew, who claims as an amateur he battered Haye in a sparring session, is willing to face him at cruiser or heavyweight - but prefers to defend his title in the bout.
Bellew told Sky Sports News HQ: "The only person he's knocking out is the females on the calendar shoots with that top off. He's not knocking me out. We've sparred before. Put your top on David and make some sense, son. Stop fighting the clowns you're fighting, conning the British public. Come and fight me. Let's have a real fight.
"A current world champion and the best cruiserweight in the world is calling you out. I'm not even calling you out - I'll beat you. Simple as that. He's fighting guys who learned to box on the internet. You wouldn't employ these guys as sparring partners. He's conning the public and it's wrong what he's doing.
"The David Haye of old was a brilliant, top-level fighter but now it's sad what he's doing to boxing because he's fighting these guys claiming they're boxing matches but they're not. They're freak shows. I want the fight because I want to shut him up. I want to be the person to put him back in the same box he crawled out of after he cried about having a sore toe, pulling out of fights being scared to face Tyson Fury.
"I want to deal with him properly and what better way to do it than to do it for the cruiserweight belt he once had, but which I now have and which makes me the best cruiserweight in the world."