Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly will take another step closer to a rematch as they share top billing at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on July 12, live on Sky Sports – part of a star-studded bill with Rocky Fielding, the Smith brothers and Anthony Joshua MBE.
Bellew and Cleverly clashed in October 2011 for the Welshman’s WBO Light Heavyweight title at the same venue, and their bitter rivalry has continued to grow after the Liverpool man dropped a majority decision in his challenge and a rematch never transpired.
The pair made successful debuts at Cruiserweight earlier in the year, with Bellew first to step up to 200lbs with an 11th round stoppage win over Valery Brudov in March, and Cleverly followed him in May with a two-round demolition job over Shawn Corbin.
Opponents for both men will be named by Eddie Hearn at a press conference next Tuesday, and the promoter is looking forward to close a fantastic season on Merseyside after confirming the news first reported exclusively in Argus Sport.
“July 12 promises to be a great night in Liverpool – as we sign off for the summer with a bang,” said Hearn. “There’s real animosity between Tony and Nathan as they aim to overcome one final hurdle before they meet in October. Anthony fights in Liverpool for the first time as a pro and Callum and Rocky will be in big step ups.”
Cefn Fforest fighter Cleverly has already promised he’s gearing up for a rematch with Bellew and both fighters have failed to hide their contempt for one another.
“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 was more than happy to accept a possible rematch.
“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.”
Unbeaten Super Middleweight star Fielding, brothers Paul, Stephen and Callum Smith and Olympic Heavyweight sensation Joshua will all be in action on the undercard of the Liverpool bill and are looking to put in spectacular performances to go into the summer on a high.
Tickets go on sale at midday on June 10 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