Exclusive: Tony Bellew confident on Goodison Park title shot, talks Lebedev v Ramirez
Liverpool’s Tony Bellew is confident that his dream of fighting for a world title at Goodison Park is very close to being realised.
It was recently revealed by promoter Eddie Hearn that the 33-year old cruiserweight will face South Africa’s Ilunga Makabu for the vacant WBC belt – previously held by Grigory Drozd – on June 4, with the home of Everton FC the desired location.
Bellew (26-2-1, 16 KO) has long been pushing for a third world title shot – having twice fallen short at the light heavyweight limit – and got his wish after outpointing the tough Mateusz Masternak in a European title and final eliminator contest back in December.
The Liverpudlian has also been busy acting and recently played a prominent role in Creed – the latest Rocky movie – where he got to taste his dream and fight the fictional character Adonis Johnson-Creed at his beloved Goodison Park.
“I’m delighted to finally have this fight confirmed and all the team have worked long and hard to get me in this position,” Bellew exclusively told World Boxing News.
“Eddie especially has done a fantastic job and I can’t thank him enough.
“Makabu is a very stiff test and he is the most avoided cruiserweight in the world, so it will be the hardest fight of my life. He is a very very good southpaw and will be really dangerous, but I’ve always said that I want to fight the best and at this level there is no easy fight. We will have three or more game plans ready to make sure I become champion on fight night.
“I need to make my weight count in there and I am a much better fighter now that I am not draining myself down to the 175lb light heavyweight limit. I used to tire quickly, but now I can stay strong for twelve rounds,” he added.
“It is almost finalised that Goodison Park will be the venue; there are just a few things to still go over. It is a dream come true for me and everyone at Everton is right behind me, the club, the manager and the chairman Bill Kenwright, so hopefully it will happen.”
While Bellew has his sights firmly set on Makabu, another big unification fight in the division sees Denis Lebedev face Victor Emilio Ramirez on May 21, with their respective WBA and IBF belts both on the line.
“It is always good to see the belts unified and they are both basic but very strong fighters. Lebedev should have too much for Ramirez and I can see him stopping the Argentinian at some point,” Bellew continued.
“I should have fought Ramirez in December, but he didn’t want it and I had to look elsewhere. I moved on anyway and now finally have my world title shot.
“I myself want to unify the division and once I become champion I would love to face Lebedev straight away, with three belts on the line – that would be special. That will be the fight I want, but first I am fully focused on Makabu.
Matt Horan is a lead writer for WBN. Follow on Twitter @mhoran123