Tony Bellew is only interested in a rematch with bitter rival Nathan Cleverly if it leads to a cruiserweight world-title shot, according to his trainer David Coldwell.
Cleverly makes his debut in the 14st 4lbs division against Shawn Corbin (17 wins, four defeats) at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena on Saturday night – the scene of his brutal unseating as WBO light-heavyweight champion at the crushing hands of unbeaten Russia Sergey Kovalev.
The 27-year-old would do well to replicate Bellew’s debut at the higher weight class two months ago.
Before a hometown crowd at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, proud Evertonian Bellew heavily floored Kovalev’s countryman Valery Brudov three times on his way to a final-round knockout triumph.
That performance, in addition to Cleverly’s decision to join Bellew in Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom stable, set tongues wagging about the prospect of a mouthwatering second meeting between the pair.
In October 2011, Cleverly (26-1) handed the 31-year-old a maiden professional loss by virtue of a majority decision that Bellew disputes to this day.
That thrilling 12-round war did not prompt a thaw in relations between the two. They retain few kind words for one another and setting up part two of this grudge match would surely prove an easy sell for Hearn, who told IFL TV this week that he would like to put both boxers on the same Liverpool bill in July and build towards a November showdown.
But Coldwell, who took over as Bellew’s lead cornerman for the Brudov contest, is keen that any Cleverly fight is a means to the end of a world crown.
“It’s not about moving towards Cleverly; it’s about moving towards a world title,” he told World Boxing News.
“If Cleverly happens to be a route to a world title fight then that’s happy days and it’s two birds with one stone.
“If people ask questions to Tony about Cleverly then, yes, he’s going to talk about it and he’s going to be quite emotive about it. It’s somebody that he’s got certain feelings about.
“The thing is, he doesn’t openly come out and talk about Cleverly – it’s when somebody asks a question.
“If Cleverly is our route to a world title crack then we’ll be excited about that fight and Tony will be excited to knock him out.”
Coldwell does concede the Welshman could fit ideally into Bellew’s plans, with a world-title tilt in early 2015 to ideally follow.
He added: “The next fight, I would like to be along the lines of a Brudov – a similar sort of level.
“Then we step up for the next one – it could well be Cleverly – and then a world-title crack. That’s the kind of plan that I would like for Tony.”
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