TONY BELLEW was full of fire and fury when trying to crash the weight as a late notice substitute the first time a fight with Nathan Cleverly was mooted. The two would eventually contest the WBO light-heavyweight title. But it was only after that contest concluded that Bellew began to hate Nathan Cleverly.

“The words he said to me in that ring were, that was the hardest fight I’ve ever had,” Bellew insists. “The comments out of his mouth [later] were ‘I never got out of second gear’, ‘it was an easy fight’, ‘I done it with two cracked ribs’. That just infuriates me.”

Bellew’s fighting pride had been stung. “He’s a lying scumbag,” he said. “I can never forgive that.”

Tony continued, “Many fighters have been robbed. Mine wasn’t a robbery, I never said that. What I did say is I thought I did enough to win. It was a close fight it could have gone either way. It should have gone my way.”

The Liverpudlian has had to wait for the rematch he craved. “If I’m ever in a close fight I agree to a rematch on the telly,” he declared. “If he really could beat me so easily why not fight an immediate rematch and get better than the best payday you’ve ever had because I was the best payday, bar Kovalev, that he’s ever had?

“His career’s built on lies.”

Their current promoter Eddie Hearn says Bellew-Cleverly II will take place this year. “We’ve got November 29 booked [at the Echo Arena in Liverpool]. We could have a big show in October, which could be a monster card [at the O2 in London]. I do take my hat off to Nathan because he’s been here [the Echo Arena] before, he came here again tonight and he’s quite willing to come here again,” Eddie said.

“It is real and there is animosity and there is rivalry. It’s like Froch-Groves… The winner [of Bellew-Cleverly II] I believe probably gets a pay-per-view platform for a world title [fight] as well. I’m already thinking about if Tony wins, Goodison [Park] against [Marco] Huck. If Cleverly wins, Millenium Stadium against Huck.”

For the full ringside report from the Liverpool show don’t miss this week’s issue of Boxing News