NATHAN Cleverly is being lined-up for back-to-back fights in Liverpool in 2014 with the second a blockbuster showdown with Tony Bellew.
The Argus can reveal that promoter Eddie Hearn has pencilled in dates for July and November with Cleverly set for a further two trips into the Lions’ Den.
He’s already beaten Bellew in his home city, but their 2012 showdown was at light heavyweight and the hated rivals are set to clash again at cruiserweight.
Bellew was ringside on Saturday as Cleverly made his long awaited comeback, nine months after losing his undefeated record and WBO world title to Sergey Kovalev.
Cleverly’s lowest moment came at the same arena and he even had the same dressing room, but he exorcised that demon by destroying Shawn Corbin in two rounds, the referee intervening after some heavy right hands saw his opponent unable to defend himself.
Bellew punched the air in delight as Cleverly took the victory and it is little wonder with the pair set for a lucrative showdown.
Behind Carl Froch and George Groves, Cleverly and Bellew have the biggest rivalry in British boxing and the duo will meet again sooner than many would have expected.
They will share the stage in July when both will feature on a Matchroom bill in Liverpool, a final tune-up for them both before they settle their grudge on November 29.
And Cleverly is confident he’ll be at his best ahead of his “inevitable,” rematch.
“I’m back with a bang, I thought I’d get a few more rounds, but I felt really strong in there,” Cleverly said.
“The added weight has helped me massively, I feel stronger, fitter and physically and mentally spot-on.
“I’ve eradicated the memory of the loss to Kovalev and I know I’ve gambled moving up to 14 stone 4lbs.
“But I feel sharp at the weight, I’m only 27, I’m growing into it bit by bit and I needed that time off, even though nine months off isn’t ideal, in terms of inactivity. Now everything is getting set up.
“Tony and I are on a collision course, both at cruiser and we are both off to a good start.
“It’s looking good for later in the year, it’s a grudge match and I’m just after one more fight beforehand.
“I needed this fight and now we’ll step it up, bit by bit, working my way up to the top.”
Bellew, initially praising, tore into Cleverly during the live television broadcast.
“Nathan will visit mental demons with me, he’ll come to me in Liverpool and it’s a rematch people want to see as the fight was so close,” he said.
“Next time no judges will be needed. I will do worse damage than Kovalev. The move to cruiserweight suits me better than him, when I hit people I hurt them.
“Nathan is a confidence guy. He needed a confidence fight and needs another one. I don’t need another fight; I’d have gone in on Saturday, in my suit.
“I’m a natural cruiserweight and my goal is to win a world title. The only reason I’m fighting Nathan again is because it is personal. Why? It just is.”