The Liverpool Echo Arena will inevitably be transformed into a raucous cauldron of intensity come fight night on November 22nd as Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew clash in their highly anticipated rematch which contains all the ingredients to serve up a rip roaring British boxing showdown.
The two fighters have been on a collision course since almost simultaneously opting to move up to the cruiserweight division and now with the fight signed, fight fans can expect an explosive night of boxing. The fight is a tale of two cities and two fighters determined to prove they are the number one. It is the epitome of a domestic sporting grudge match where we will find out who is Britains better Cruiserweight. The fight is likely to be a final eliminator for the WBO championship currently held by Marco Huck of Germany.
The former undefeated British, Commonwealth, European champion from the Cefn Forest lost his WBO Light Heavyweight world title as he was crushed in Cardiff by Sergey ‘The Krusher’ Kovalev in August 2013 in his first professional career defeat. Cleverly’s subsequent decision to make the step up to the Cruiserweight division has seen him comfortably dispose of Shawn Corbin and Alejandro Emilio Valori. The one sided nature of the bouts hasn’t revealed too much about the Welshman credentials as a Cruiser but he has nonetheless come through the warm up fights unscathed.
Bellew suffered a similar fate against the very best in the Light Heavyweight division and also moved up to cruiserweight after being knocked out in the sixth round of his world title challenge. He was completely outgunned when losing to Canada’s Adonis Stevenson in Quebec City in November 2013. Since his loss to the hard punching Stevenson, the fiery scouser has bounced back with two very impressive stoppage wins over Valery Brudov in March and Julio Cesar Dos Santos in July. Bellew has faced the higher ranked and better calibre opponents since moving up a weight and has drawn more plaudits with his performances with some eye catching, devastating blows.
He did show a brief spell of vulnerability against the Veteran Valery Brudov in his cruiserweight debut which may be an indication that for all his knockout power he may also be susceptible to being stunned himself against world level opposition. At light heavyweight, Bellew has been knocked to the canvas against domestic level opposition in the form of Bob Ajisafe and was twice down against Ovill McKenzie in their first fight. If Cleverly’s power has been boosted by his jump in weight and added muscle he may pose more of a stoppage threat than is expected of him. It can’t be ignored that the Welsh fighter has won both his fights by KO since stepping up. To credit Bellew though, he has bounced back from knockdowns during the fights every time apart from the destruction at the hands of Stevenson.
Cleverly has already beaten Bellew back in 2011 in his own backyard in Liverpool in a defence of his WBO light-heavyweight title via a majority decision. The fight was at times a war of attrition with momentum shifting like a pendulum during the twelve rounds. However it was Cleverly’s superior work rate, intensity and effective combination punching that deservedly saw the judges score the fight in his favour despite a spirited effort by the home city underdog in a close fight.
Tony Bellew enjoyed a successful amateur career before turning professional. He is a former three time ABA heavyweight champion as an amateur in the 91kg (14st 3lb) class which is virtually the equivalent to Cruiserweight weight limit of 14st 4lb in the Professional game, so he may be better accustomed to heavier hitting opponents. His nickname ‘the bomber’ came from his large number of knockout wins in the amateurs. Cleverly by comparison is a relatively small cruiserweight ideally suited to a weight division somewhere in between light heavy and cruiser and boxed in the lighter divisions as an amateur although notably he was a lot younger in age and still physically developing.
The keys to success for Cleverly could be to keep the tempo high and throw a large volume of punches and combinations whilst the one punch knockout power advantage lies with the man from Liverpool. It is widely regarded that the step up in weight is more beneficial to Bellew. He will be very confident in his ability to hurt his rival if he can catch him clean with one of his raking straight right hands that were effective for him in the first fight. The bookmakers are unable to separate them this time around. They need no encouragement to resume hostilities but for either man it could be a very damaging defeat and potentially put a close to any aspirations of a world title for the loser.
BELLEW: W22 14KO L2 (KO1) 56KO%
CLEVERLY: W28 KO14 L1 (KO1) 48.28KO%