You must be happy after settling the grudge against Nathan Cleverly?
I am. I proved a lot of people wrong. So many. I’m a happy person. Life is good at the moment.
You said you’d put it to bed. Nathan said he wouldn’t mind doing it again. Given you’ve had two fairly close fights a third fight cannot be out of the picture…
I wouldn’t say out of the picture but I’d say it’s been put to bed to be honest. That was a clear-cut victory. Would anyone want to see that again? I know what the judges have said. That fact of the matter is he can’t compete with me at this weight and that’s evident.
You said afterwards about a catchweight fight and he’s said about it since. Is that an option?
I can’t lose weight. I can’t come down under 200 and when I do my body starts falling apart and I just can’t do it. At the end of the day, before this fight it was all ‘I’m an athlete. I’m a cruiserweight athlete.’ Everything was cruiserweight and this and that and now because basically I’ve beaten him up he’s not a cruiserweight? I just don’t think that’s fair. And once again he’s trying to piss on my chips, just like after the first fight. He’s not one to accept he’s been beaten by the better man. It’s evident to see that I was telling the truth after the fight and what happened to me. I fell apart in the last few rounds. I was winning the first fight, it was a walk in the park when I could do what I wanted to do. But as soon as you get in the later rounds and you’ve got a guy who is 15 or 16 stone and he’s fighting at 12-and-a-half then something’s got to give and I’m not willing to do that no more.
Providing your careers go in the right paths from now, there could be a lot of money in a third fight…
There could be, and ultimately this is a business. If Eddie [Hearn] comes to me and says ‘Tony, there’s more money in this fight than any other’ then it’s obviously going to happen. As a personal appeal, I don’t feel it. He wouldn’t have had the rematch had it not been motivated by money. Everybody knows that. This is ultimately a business but I’ve put it to bed. I’m just so happy about what I’ve said all these years about me and him was right. I was a better boxer than him, I have more strings to my bow, I have More about me than he does, in boxing terms. I’m not talking about personal things, business or brains because ultimately he’s a lot cleverer than me, but purely on a boxing scale, I’m better than him. I’m just a better fighter and I’ve proven that with some of the ways I fought and Saturday, once again, I proved I can do something else. That I can outlast the cardio-machine. All I heard in the build up was ‘Tony Bellew cannot win on points.’ That’s all I heard from journalists, from the media, even people on Sky were saying ‘Tony Bellew cannot win on points.’ Well Tony Bellew did win on points. And Tony Bellew outworked the cardio-machine. That’s what I’ve done. Nobody else. It takes a lot of balls to stand in front of someone, take anything they’ve got and outwork and bully them. It’s old school tactics and that’s what I’ve done to him. It was an old school performance. I got close, roughed him up and the inside fighting was the key. That’s from years of studying boxing. The one things I do know is I know boxing. With the performance it may have not been good to watch or been the spectacle we all wanted, but what it was, if you watch old school fighters it was old school bullying and old school infighting and that’s an art that’s been lost in the modern game.
I would say that. Looking back on the fight I just wish me and Dave [Coldwell] had a chance to look over to his corner after round nine and seen how much he was blowing because I’d have put my foot on the gas even more because I was under the illusion that this great athlete was waiting for me to tire. And I was thinking, ‘I will wait until you think I’m tired and then I will really put it on you again.’ In actual fact, he was the one blowing.
Do you have respect for him hanging in there when there was clearly nothing left?
Do you know, what disappoints me most is that he didn’t come to fight. I know why he didn’t come to fight, because he knew he’d get knocked out. Everyone has gone on about it not being a good one but you can’t force someone to fight. After four or five rounds it seemed like there was nothing really in it so I had to man up and I had to really press the fight and that’s what I did. But what’s disappointing to me the most is this guy fought Sergey Kovalev head on. And he ran from me. New he’s run from me because mine and him’s thing was personal and he just couldn’t bear to lose to me by knockout and he knew if he traded with me who was going to lose by knockout. There was nothing wrong with his right hand, they spoke to him straight after the fight and he said there was nothing wrong with his right hand. I’ll tell you what was wrong with his right hand, he didn’t want to let the left hook through. He knows that. He had a right hand because he was hitting me up on the side of the head, the hard part, up close and hard. I was trying to open him to throw that left hook but he wouldn’t do it. I am disappointed for the fans and the people who paid to view it, I am disappointed and gutted for them but what I want them to know is I gave everything I could to try and draw that guy into a fight. And he just wouldn’t entertain it.
You said stuff about AA at the press conference…
I didn’t say anything about it. I just asked him a question. That’s all I did. People are saying I called him this or I called him that, I never called him anything. I never called him an alcoholic. Let’s remember, I’ve been called a fat slob all through the camp. I’ve been brutally taken apart all through camp and all of a sudden I ask a question, ‘Have you been to an AA adviser lately,’ everyone jumps on it.
Where’s that come from?
You’re best off asking him, that’s his life. Just like being fat is my life! You can’t call a guy fat and say he’s a slob all the way through and expect no retaliation. It’s just the fact that I pick my moments and my times to retaliate from what I was getting called.
In reflection, how emotionally involved were you in last week?
Do you know what? I didn’t watch anything last week. I’ve only seen The Gloves are Off this week and watching them put a little smile on my face because I had a lot of pressure on me. More pressure than I can explain to anybody. I had a part in a movie in the background, I had so much going on I had immense pressure. I didn’t let myself get emotionally involved in the fight but when I started walking to the ring it dawned upon me because I’ve never felt a crowd at home like that for me ever. The noise from the Scousers and fan in general was unbelievable and I’m indebted to them for the rest of my life.
Can you imagine what it would be like at Goodison Park?
Jesus Christ. I don’t know, but it dawned upon me on my way into the ring and the one thing I realized is the amount of media you need to do at Box Office level. It’s absolutely off the chain. It’s ridiculous. These guys have been in our camps for months, they’ve been part of my life for months. I’ve seen certain cameramen more than I’ve seen my kids. Carl Froch did warn me before it that the media was crazy and I had to be prepared for it but I was saying I would be okay with it thinking it would be just another day and it wasn’t. The amount of work for a Box Office event is crazy. I’m lucky to be a part of it, being a boxer at the pinnacle of the sport. It might not happen again. I’ve been the main casting actor in a Box Office fight and I never dreamed that would happen in my lifetime. I’ve been buying Box Office since I was a kid, staying up until four in the morning to watch your Mike Tysons and you Naseem Hameds. To be part of something like that is unbelievable.
Yes. I go out in December to Philadelphia to start preparation for the film.
They’ve been asking me to sign the contract for two months but I’ve signed it today. The way I am, I couldn’t have done that movie if I’d lost that fight. The amount of pressure I put on myself… I just wouldn’t have done it. I couldn’t have done it.
I wasn’t signing anything until after the fight. No one puts more pressure on me than I do myself because all I want to do is provide a great life for my family. Saturday night, my career was on the line and when we got to those big rounds I just thought, ‘How much do you want it?’
And that’s all that fight was about, because I didn’t box well. I boxed poorly, if I’m being totally honest. My inside game was good but everything else was poor. I’m disappointed with my performance. But one thing I have to do is give credit to Dave Coldwell. Dave has driven and trained me like a lunatic for 12 weeks. He does every camp but we gave heart and soul into this camp and there have been times when I’ve been pissed off and not wanted to do certain parts of it but he got me through it, and in that fight he got me through it. He was a massive factor in that fight. I was coming out in the last round and I thought I was pissing it, I thought I’d won nine rounds, and then I after the 11th he said I don’t trust judges now go out and win this round to win the fight. He said, go and win this round for the fight and I thought, ‘Jeez, this can’t be close or I’m losing my mind.’ And I went out and just bullied him again in the 12th round.
Turns out it was close, too…
It was close, I was disgusted because it’s wrong. I’ve tried to call Robert Smith, I’m lodging an official complaint with the Board. There’s no way that fight can be close. I don understand about Box Office that there’s got to be a good guy and there’s got to be a bad guy and like I said to Eddie, ‘I’ll play the bad guy. Pay me the right money and I’ll play the worst bad guy you’ve ever seen’. I’ll be Bane reenacted out of Batman. But the referees need to turn up with a neutral vision and that leaves me pissed off, annoyed and hurt. If I’d lost I would have retired. If that decision didn’t go my way I would have retired and that’s because of piss poor officials that it came close to that. In British grudge fights we now need foreign officials.
The fight you want more now than any other is?
I want a world champion. If [Marco] Huck wants to dance I’ll dance. I’ll fight him any time.
I’d imagine he would be the most lucrative option…
Yes, he possibly could be but I’m not sure but I think a fight we get into Goodison Park will do well because it’s an event then because it’s never happened and everyone’s going to want to say ‘I was there that night.’
And we’ve got a city with lads that are far more talented than me. Callum Smith is the most naturally talented kid in this whole city, he’s going to be the flagholder for this city for a long-time to come, I’ve known him since he was a baby. People still write off Stephen Smith and he’s got an awful lot more to show. David Price as a lot to show but the thing with heavyweights is you’ve got to be matched right. I still believe that if he hadn’t met Tony Thompson David would be fighting Wladimir Klitschko now. It’s just one of those styles. You’re fighting him for no reason at all, it wasn’t his decision at all to take the first fight… There’s so much talent. People haven’t seen half of what Liam Smith has got. I am one of the paupers in this city when it comes to skill and fighting ability, I just get through on hard work and determination. That’s all I can do.
Have you and Eddie had talks about Goodison Park?
That’s always been a dream of mine. It’s about timing, logistics, money, what fighters are willing to come. Huck’s already said he’ll do it so we’re halfway there with him. But there’s other world champions out there and I do believe I can become a world champion. I know on Saturday’s display people are going to laugh at that but you’ve got to remember I outworked a cardio-machine and I will go again. I’ve just beaten a guy who’s never bneen beaten like that. He’s been knocked down and knocked out, but there’s not a fighter in the world who’s bullied and outworked him. I’ve done that and I’d just like some credit from it because I can’t win. If I’d knocked him out on Saturday night it would have been, ‘He was damaged goods from the Kovalev fight.’ People were saying his engine was too good but it wasn’t, my engine was too good. The best way of putting it was 666.bet said anybody who places a bet on me winning on points they would refund the bets. Bookies don’t throw away money. They did on Saturday.