Tony Bellew declared himself ready for a third World title shot after stopping Ivica Bacurin at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Friday night, live on Sky Sports.
Bellew dropped the Croatian three times before the stoppage; in the second round with a left to the temple, in the fifth with a combination and then a right hand in the ninth, before referee Steve Gray called a halt to proceedings early in the tenth and final round with the visitor in trouble in the corner from another right hand.
The Liverpool star is hunting down a World title clash with IBF king Yoan Pablo Hernandez, who defends his crown for the fifth time in May, and the ‘Bomber’ revealed that he was struggling with the flu in the build-up.
“I got ill last week but there was no way I was missing this,” said Bellew, who sent his best wishes to Sky Sports pundit and former World champion Jim Watt, whose daughter tragically passed away today. “Dave Coldwell has improved me 25 per cent at least but you cannot stop picking up injuries in camp and getting sick – my kids are bringing home every flu and cold bug from school.
“It was great to be back in there and back where I belong. I am ready for a World title shot. Eddie Hearn has delivered on every word he has said from day one and I believe that he will bring me that shot.”
Hearn added: “We want the winner of the IBF title fight in July and we’ll look to get him in there for that belt in October or November – it has to be a World title next for Tony.”