The 31 year-old, who moved up to cruiserweight having lost to world champion Adonis Stevenson, went down to the first of his career losses to Cleverly in 2011 as Bellew missed out on the WBO light-heavyweight title.
Although there is no belt on the line tonight, there is something a whole lot more important at stake for Bellew – his pride.
Bellew had promised his followers a victory three years ago and it broke his heart that he was just unable to pull it off, but this time ‘The Bomber’ knows he has the odds in his favour and that he really has to deliver.
Smart betting money has been lobbed on a Bellew stoppage due the difference in punching power between the two, with most seeing Cleverly’s only chance of a second win coming from a more measured boxing performance. Should the fight develop into a rangy affair, you’d have to go with the ex-world title holder, something which Bellew cannot afford to allow – but must be weary of punching himself out in the mid-rounds from over-excitement.
Most predictions being bandied about don’t see the fight going the full twelve, as a late stoppage for Bellew gathers much favour. And if the devout Evertonian can pull it off tonight, a third fight with Cleverly in the summer of 2015 will be within touching distance.
Any levelling of the scores would no doubt have promoter Eddie Hearn licking his lips at the prospect of a rubber match between the British rivals, potentially at Everton’s Goodison Park Stadium, with some sort of world or interim title putting the icing on the Bellew v Cleverly cake.
In my view a knockout either way is entirely possible in what is a close contest on paper, although judging from the pre-fight build-up you’d be silly not to favour Bellew to halt Cleverly and set tongues wagging about a decider in the coming months.