Tony Bellew settled the intense grudge match with Nathan Cleverly and backed up all his pre-fight talk, avenging defeat in the initial contest between these two in 2011.
Bellew, aged, 31 had a real hatred for Cleverly coming into the fight following their close and highly entertaining first fight. The naturally bigger man kept telling everyone that the rematch at cruiserweight would make the fight a completely different prospect, and so it proved.
Cleverly entered the ring first looking very confident with a smile on his face and he looked extremely calm and composed under the pressure situation.
Bellew entered the ring look equally confident with chants of 'Are you not entertained?' from the legendary Gladiator film bellowing throughout Liverpool's Echo Arena.
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Both men started at quite a quick tempo trying to establish the jab whilst both covered up well prevented the other from landing their big shots.
Bellew was on the front foot throughout the fight but wasn't landing too many shots early on as Cleverly flicked out the jab. The jab lacked the confidence and power expected but it certainly kept Bellew at distance.
Tough to score early on
The early rounds were so tough to score with neither man taking control of the fight and the spectacle made for disappointing viewing until the later rounds.
Cleverly fought as though he had injured his right hand as he barely threw the punch, struggling to land blows with any real force and commitment behind them.
Cleverly Fades Badly
In the later rounds Cleverly faded badly and lost his usually ever-present engine. He had to hang on the ropes and barely moved from the spot in each of the final rounds. His legs were completely gone and his punches lacked any power to them at all.
To Cleverly's luck Bellew was also tiring and, although he physically asserted himself on the Welshman, he was unable to land his big shots one after another.
Bellew's Size Takes Control Of The Fight
Bellew's natural size and weight advantage allowed him to bully the tiring Cleverly and. despite the bout not living up the pre-fight build up, it was still an intriguing battle.
Cleverly was so defensive in his work that Bellew was unable to create the war-like fight that we had all expected. Bellew kept on marching forward trying to get to Cleverly, but was unable to do so until the later rounds as his opponent tired.
Bellew Clear Winner
The fight ended with a sense that Bellew was the clear winner only for a spanner to be thrown into the works with a split decision verdict announced. Bellew stood there with a look of horror on his face and for a moment he must have feared a robbery.
Thankfully justice prevailed and Bellew was awarded the win on the scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 114-115. I personally scored the fight 117-111, with Cleverly rarely impressing.
In the post-fight interview with Sky Sports Bellew said: "I’m over the moon, listen it’s over, it’s put to bed.
"We said a lot of things. I don’t like him now, but it’s been settled tonight. It’s over, it’s done and I’ve outworked a great athlete.
"I won’t go back on my word - there’s not going to be a big embrace and a hug - but let’s just say there is respect here and it’s over, it’s done with."
Cleverly who initially left the ring before being called back by Bellew said: "It was similar to the first fight and a majority decision, one apiece, but I just think it shows my character, what happened.
"I’ve come up from welterweight and his strength showed in the second half of the fight.
"The first half, I was quite comfortable on the jab. The second half, I started to slow down, he was using his natural strength, pushing me back the last six rounds. He made it pay. Another close fight, one apiece, maybe we’ll have a third fight."
It was good to see some level of sportsmanship between the two and also good of Bellew to admit that despite not liking Cleverly that there is some respect there.
World Title Next Up For Bellew?
In terms of where each fighter goes from here Bellew looks to be in line for a world title shot against Marco Huck. But Bellew will have to improve on his performance against his bitter rival if he is to have any further success.
Bellew looked slow against Cleverly and missed plenty of shots. He seemed to have almost put on a bit too much weight and lost some of his sharpness as a result.
We will have to see if this was just due to the emotion of the fight or if he really will be a different fighter at cruiserweight.
What Next For Cleverly?
For Cleverly perhaps retirement awaits the former world champion. Following his only other loss at the hands of the destructive Sergey Kovalev he contemplated retirement and he may do so again.
If he does decide to box on then he really needs to have a good think about the future. He struggled to cope with the weight and size of Bellew and he just didn't look like he is cut-out for cruiserweight boxing at the highest level.
Cleverly aged 27 is still a young man and there were talks of a third fight but there seems little appetite for another fight between the two. Bellew was the clear winner and a different result at this weight looks very unlikely.
Bellew Gets His Revenge
Bellew can finally relax having settled the score but for Cleverly many questions will have to be answered.
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