Tony Bellew produced a sweet left hook to take out veteran Julio Cesar Dos Santos in Liverpool on Saturday night and immediately proceeded to goad ex-opponent Nathan Cleverly at his ringside position.
Having stopped Alejandro Valori in the co-feature over four rounds in a drab affair at the Echo Arena, Cleverly sat attentively in Row A in full view of Bellew as the hometown favourite was matched up against his Brazilian foe in the main event.
Clearly aware of Cleverly’s presence, Bellew waded through the early rounds until his honey punch ultimately sealed a return with the Welshman, who had become the first man to defeat ‘The Bomber’ in 2011 at the same venue. An ecstatic Bellew turned his initial elation from the victory into pure venom once Dos Santos was waved off and almost began trading blows with Cleverly over the media tables before the announcement of his triumph was made.
Cleverly was a willing participant in the argument as the Sky Sports cameras rolled and aided promoter Eddie Hearn’s attempts to sell the rematch upon witnessing both boxers scoring knockouts.
At one point, Hearn put his fingers in his ears as Bellew and Cleverly continued their mutual tirade and would have been licking his lips in anticipation of overseeing what is set to be a full-blooded domestic return touted for November. Bellew’s over the top reaction, having been met be an eye-for-eye response by Cleverly, would have been music to Hearn’s ears as the Sky Sports showdown draws ever nearer as both settle into the 200lb division.
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