After securing an emotional first world title at his beloved Goodison Park on Sunday night, Tony Bellew has insisted he is the best cruiserweight in the world and victory has been the "defining moment" of his life.
The 33-year-old knocked out Ilunga Makabu in the third round of his third shot at a world title, having lost to Nathan Cleverly and Adonis Stevenson in his two previous attempts at claiming a world title strap. And Bellew is now looking forward to taking on another of the division's best fighters.
With the WBC world title belt now securely around his waist, Bellew spared time to sound out David Haye and Denis Lebedev as two potential opponents for his next bout. But, for now, he is taking in the monumental achievement he created at the home of Everton, the club he supports and holds a season ticket.
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"If someone wrote my story and my life, the director would probably say 'take it away, it's nonsense, it couldn't happen'. But it has happened and this is far beyond movies, this stuff." Bellew told Sky Sports.
The Liverpudlian even featured in the boxing film, Creed, which was released last year - setting himself up for a potential career after boxing - but despite achieving a life-long dream, Bellew has no intentions of quitting the sport any time soon.
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"It's what dreams are made of, it really, really is. The movie, Creed, was amazing, but this far supersedes and exceeds my wildest of dreams." Bellew admitted.
"The people who were in the dressing room last night know how much it means to me and how much I've put at stake. I have always dreamed of being this WBC champion.
"It's what has driven me, pushed me and it's what I've dreamed of. It's true that dreams can become true, this is a dream and I never thought this would be possible. I am WBC champion of the world, it's crazy."
Many had tipped South Africa-based Congo-born Makabu to take the vacant title, but despite an early blip, which saw Bellew sent to the canvas, he recovered well to beat the cruiserweight who had only previously been beaten once.
The new world champion also showed great sportsmanship in comforting Makabu (19-2-KO18), who was left bitterly disappointed following an uncharacteristic defeat. But Bellew was keen to remind boxing fans what the victory meant to him.
"It was the most defining moment in my whole life. I have built this thing up for 20 years. I've wanted to be world champion and now I am champion of the world," said Bellew.
"I am the best cruiserweight in the world right now and I know that is a fact."
But without letting a second pass to absorb the size of his achievements, he is already considering his options for his next fight, and is waiting to see if Haye is willing to step back down to cruiserweight, while thanking his promoter, Eddie Hearn, for playing a big part in his success.
"I've got to speak to Eddie, who has been fantastic for me. The day I met Eddie Hearn was the day that this dream was close to become a reality." said Bellew. "Through the ups and downs that we've had, we're here and I am champion of the world."
Has Tony Bellew got the ability to unify the cruiserweight division? Have your say in the comments box below.
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