Tony Bellew will fight Illunga Makabu for the WBC world cruiserweight title

tony bellew vs David Haye
Action Images/Andrew Couldridge
Tony Bellew speaks to George Gigney about his dream world title shot

TONY BELLEW insists his WBC world cruiserweight title fight against Illunga Makabu will take place in his hometown of Liverpool.

His promoter, Eddie Hearn, confirmed today that an agreement has been reached for Bellew to take on Makabu for the vacant title.

Makabu was scheduled to fight the WBC champion Grigory Drozd, only for the Russian to pull out with an injury, prompting the WBC to strip him.

“I’m happy, I’ve been very patient, I’ve sat and waited and Eddie Hearn’s delivered for me,” Bellew told Boxing News.

“The first time I met Eddie, a long time ago, I set out what I wanted to achieve in boxing. We achieved the first thing, fighting the best light-heavyweight in the world [Adonis Stevenson, Bellew was stopped in six rounds], and now we’re going to achieve the second, which is becoming the best cruiserweight in the world.

“Every day I was being asked by people who I was fighting next, when I was fighting next. Last time I took a big risk by fighting [Mateusz] Masternak [Bellew won a 12-round decision] and I took that risk because I just wanted a big fight.

“Now I’ve got the toughest fight of my life ahead of me in Illunga Makabu, he’s probably the most dangerous fighter in the division. Highly avoided, 19 wins, one loss and all of his wins, only one has gone the distance. There are some really good names on his record as well.”

Makabu – a tricky southpaw with thunderous power – is one of two men to have stopped Glen Johnson, and also handed a first career defeat to Dmytro Kucher (who fights Ovill McKenzie for the European title in April).

A date and venue are yet to be finalised, but June 4 looks likely and Tony – a die-hard Everton fan – is adamant the fight will happen in Liverpool.

In his recent portrayal of ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan in the film Creed, Bellew defended the light-heavyweight title he held in the movie at Goodison Park – a dream he hopes to realise in his boxing career.

“It looks like the first week of June – there’s nowhere else it’s going other than Liverpool. We’re close to agreeing a venue. It’s likely to be somewhere bigger than the Echo Arena,” he revealed.

“It’s always been my dream to be WBC champion of the world, every fighter who’s in the boxing business dreams of lifting that green belt. I’ve done it in the movies, but I haven’t done it in real life! It would mean more to me than anything. I can’t explain the lengths I will go to to win that belt.”

The Liverpudlian, however, is not getting ahead of himself and is well aware of the challenge ahead of him.

Makabu may not be well known by most fans, but the Republic of Congo native – who now lives in South Africa – is highly regarded in the cruiserweight division.

“I know he’s strong, clever. He’s a southpaw, which is usually a nightmare for me but I’m a student of the game and I’ll watch everything he does and I’ll leave it to my fantastic coach, Dave Coldwell, to formulate the game plan,” Bellew said.

“I’ve got a good idea of how I’ll beat him – he’s a lot smaller than me. As much as he’s got 18 knockouts from his 19 wins, I actually think I’m the bigger puncher.

“But I’m not underestimating him, he’s a brilliant fighter. You’re not going to get an easy fight at this level.”

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