Tony Bellew insists he is not thinking about Nathan Cleverly as the pair share top billing on July 12 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, live on Sky Sports.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has billed the night ‘Collision Course’ as Bellew and Cleverly look set to renew their bitter rivalry later in the year, and they both fight at Cruiserweight for the second time since they stepped up from Light Heavyweight in a fortnight’s time.
Cleverly returns to the venue he edged past Bellew in a WBO World title defence at 175lbs in October 2011, and they both face South American opponents on Merseyside as Bellew meets Brazil’s WBO Latino champion Julio Cesar Dos Santos while Cleverly tackles the Argentine champion Alejandro Valori.
Bellew has been itching to get his hands on the Welshman since their first meeting, but ‘The Bomber’ says it’s a path to a World title against the best in the world that is his ultimate goal, not revenge against Cleverly.
“It's all about July 12, not about Nathan,” said Bellew. “I cannot think about anything other than Julio Santos, he's a very, very durable and hard-punching Brazilian. I know he is strong, he has never been stopped and he does a little of everything. Fans come to see me because I stop people, and this guy is a solid proven Cruiserweight so we'll see what I can do with him. I've already fought a former World Cruiserweight title challenger in Valery Brudov, this is a similar fight.
“Brudov is a tried and tested Cruiserweight on my debut at the weight and Cleverly fought a Light Heavyweight on his. Shaun Corbin had been smashed in two rounds by Karo Murat, he's not a Cruiserweight. Fighters know that there are some fights we call 'gimmes' – you don't get many of them, I've only had a couple in my career. Atoli Moore for the Commonwealth title was the biggest gimme I've ever had and I hope every morning when I wake-up that I am facing Atoli again. I got in the ring that night and thought this isn't happening, he cannot throw punches that slow and expect to not get KO'd, you don't get many of them in your career and that night I got one, and Nathan got one in his last fight.
“I’ve settled into the weight perfectly and you’ll see a destructive performance on July 12. I want to close the season in style and push towards another World title shot. All I have ever been interested in is fighting the best in the business for the big belts and if I have to beat Nathan to get to the top, then that will be the icing on the cake.”
Bellew and Cleverly lead a star-studded line up in Liverpool with local favourites mixing with Olympic heroes.
Super Middleweight talents Rocky Fielding and Callum Smith look to add to their unbeaten records with fights against Noe Gonzalez Alcoba and Vladine Biosse, while Callum’s older brother Stephen keeps busy in an eight-round clash as he prepares to fight for a World title in the new season.
Olympic gold medal heroes Anthony Joshua MBE and Luke Campbell MBE close their first seasons in their first action in Liverpool, with Joshua facing Matt Skelton while Campbell’s opponent will be announced soon. They are joined by Team GB teammate and bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo who faces Sheffield’s Wayne Reed.
Unbeaten Liverpool Featherweight John Quigley is in his 13th fight on the bill which is completed by former Team GB starlet Gamal Yafai and unbeaten Cambridge Lightweight Tommy Martin.
Tickets are on sale priced £30, £40, £60 and ringside seats at £100 available from the Echo Arena on 0844 8000 400 and at www.echoarena.com
VIP tickets priced at £150 are exclusively available from Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900 and at www.matchroomboxing.com