In 30 days, Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly will square off in a highly anticipated rematch at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
The first encounter between the pair, in October of 2011, was a memorable battle for Cleverly's WBO light heavyweight title. The bitter rivals went to war for 12 exhilarating rounds - at the same venue as the pending clash - and the Welshman edged his fiery Evertonian counterpart via majority decision, despite many observers believing the challenger had done enough to snatch the belt.
Bellew (22-2-1, 14KO's) was keen for an immediate rematch with his old foe, but the requests were rebuffed and he was forced to go in a different direction. Until now that is.
Three years have passed and both men have suffered crushing knockout defeats in world title bouts, at the hands of Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev respectively.
Huck is the end-game for bitter domestic foes
Each new cruiserweight has made a big career change and are now signed to Eddie Hearn's flourishing Matchroom stable. Oh, and both men are now campaigning in a division and chasing a fight with longtime WBO titleholder, Marco Huck.
Cleverly (28-1, 14KO's), like his oppugnant, has boxed twice in the new weight class and he has claimed two comfortable stoppage wins over dreadful opposition in Shawn Corbin and Alejandro Emilio Valori. Whereas Bellew, known as 'Bomber', has met and beaten two genuinely dangerous adversaries in Valery Brudov and Julio Cesar Dos Santos, both of whom he knocked out cleanly with single left hooks.
Bellew searching for redemption
As an amateur, the 31-year-old Bellew won three ABA titles at heavyweight and represented Great Britain at the international level. It was during his amateur career that the outspoken former British, Commonwealth and WBC Silver champion gained a reputation as a concussive puncher. In one of his ABA finals, Bellew scored a sensational one punch knockout over Jon-Lewis Dickinson. The finishing blow left the County Durham man motionless on the canvas.
Cleverly turned professional at welterweight and gradually moved through the divisions as his body changed from that of boy to a man. His best assets are his work-rate and hand-speed. At his best, Cleverly constantly throws punches and often wins rounds at a canter. His career best performances were arguably his wins over Karo Murat and Shawn Hawk. Against quality opposition, the 27-year-old former world champion's performances haven't looked as dazzling as when he is blowing away undeserving challengers. Although, to be brutally honest, he has only faced two quality fighters - Bellew and Kovalev.
Cleverly aiming to draw line under bitter grudge
At light heavyweight, Cleverly looked the better fighter of the two. However, Bellew starved himself down to the 175-pound limit, and Cleverly grew into it. At press conferences and weigh-ins, Bellew looked skeletal and was often angry and confrontational. He claims the weight loss and dieting had a massive impact on his personality - a fair assessment considering he has been very jovial and approachable at similar events since moving up.
The general consensus is that if you beat a man once, you'll beat him again. That point of view isn't necessarily accurate in this situation, though. This time the duo will meet at a weight that suits the Liverpool resident. He no longer has to lose more than 40-pounds before every bout. He also took Cleverly to hell and back, even after shedding a large amount of his body mass.
Taking into account Bellew's amateur background, his crushing punch and that he is the naturally bigger man, this Sky Sports Box Office rematch could be an entirely different affair to the barnstormer of three years ago.
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