Tony Bellew’s trainer David Coldwell gave an honest assessment of the task facing his fighter when the cruiserweight challenges Ilunga Makabu for the vacant WBC title later this month.
Bellew, 32, hopes to make it third time lucky, in regards to claiming a recognised belt, when ‘The Bomber’ fights in front of his hometown fans at Everton FC’s Goodison Park on May 29.
Coldwell is under no illusions about the calibre of opponent that stands between Bellew and finally realising his dream on bank holiday weekend, and pointed out that victory for the British puncher would be an outstanding achievement.
“Makabu is the real deal. He’s a very good fighter,” Coldwell exclusively told World Boxing News.
“He lost his debut but he puts that down to miscommunication between him and the referee, who didn’t speak English and mistimed the count. Whether it was or it wasn’t, he’s regrouped from that and he’s got some good wins. Nineteen fights unbeaten with eighteen knockouts. He can definitely fight, he can definitely punch and he’s a southpaw.
“It’s a very tough fight for Tony as Makabu has the confidence of someone who wants to take over the division. It’s down to Tony to take that away from him.”
Makabu has been riding high in the WBC rankings since a 2013 majority decision win over dangerous Ukrainian Dmytro Kucher, a result that remains the only blot on the South African’s near perfect KO record.
It’s almost a year since Makabu halted compatriot Thabiso Mchunu in the eleventh round of a Durban war, although a twelve-month gap is not ideal preparation for a maiden world title chance.
Despite this, Makabu probably begins as slight favourite for the green belt and Coldwell believes the former silver title holder is being underestimated in some quarters of Bellew’s home country.
“Some people, not a lot of people, think Makabu isn’t world class because they haven’t heard of him,” he said. “It’s the usual story really with an element of fight fans, but I’ve spoken to people in America, South Africa and they are all honest with me. The think Tony has got a very tough night in front of him. I haven’t spoken to one person outside this country that thinks Tony is going to win this fight. We know he’s the genuine article, but it’s for the WBC title and we wouldn’t expect anything less.”
Tickets for the Sunday night contest went on sale this week and Coldwell hopes the nation get behind the Scouser who stands on the verge of giving the UK yet another divisional ruler.
“Throughout Tony’s career, there are certain people who don’t want to give him respect and the credit he deserves, no matter what he’s done. But this is a fight where – when he gets that green belt, nobody can say anything as he’s done it the hard way. He had a tough fight for the European title, won that, and now he’s fighting a dangerous southpaw knockout merchant from South Africa for the WBC title. That would be an outstanding achievement for Tony and these people can’t knock him. They have to give him respect and it’s respect he is due, to be honest.
“The more British world champions we’ve got the more success we are going to have. It means more kids will get into the sport and in the end it will just be a conveyor belt of success,” added Coldwell.