Tony Bellew says his ‘Hollywood’ experience has only made his desire to be a World champion even stronger as he returns to the ring on Friday night at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, live on Sky Sports.
Bellew spent time in Philadelphia filming the latest movie in the Rocky series, Creed, after he gained sweet revenge on Nathan Cleverly in their rematch at the Echo Arena in November. ‘The Bomber’ gets back to his day job on Friday night and the Liverpool favourite is itching to get back into the ring.
“It’s a lot better taking pretend punches to the face than real ones I can assure you,” said Bellew, who now faces Ivica Bacurin after Lubos Suda was forced out with a medical issue.
“But I have missed boxing, really bad. I love fighting, I don’t know what it is in me, whether it’s a sickness or a gene, but I just love standing in front of another fighter and going for it, they can hurt me and I can hurt them. I lifted a lot of weights and did a lot of cardio out there, when it came to the fight scenes, it’s very choreographed, and it’s hard to remember a choreographed fight for 12 rounds, it’s a lot of hard work over 16 hour days sometimes, but amazing.
“I love being around boxing and being at the Mayweather fight was incredible – I hated Las Vegas – but I loved being around amazing fighters and talking with them, I bumped into Andre Ward who I worked with in the film. He’s a cool guy, I spent time with him in Philly. But it was great to finally get home and get back into the gym for tonight. The harder the training has got the more intense I have got, so the hunger and desire is still massive.”
Bellew says that the only way to satisfy that hunger is by landing a World title shot this year, and he expects that to be against IBF king Yoan Pablo Hernandez.
“The Hernandez fight is happening – sooner or later,” said Bellew. “I’ve said a number of times that he is the best fighter in the division, he’s the most difficult fighter to beat in the division. I’ve got this thing of fighting the best in the division instead of just fighting some clown for some other made up title. But I am a traditionalist and I believe in fighting the best so I can get on the top of the Radio City tower and shout from there that I am the best Cruiserweight in the world, and I can only do that by beating Hernandez.
“Who wants to face a 6ft 4in southpaw that can punch a bit? No-one. But I am going to do it because I believe you have to fight the best and I am going to put together a game plan with the team on how to pull that win off.”
Bellew’s clash with Bacurin is part of a huge night of action in Liverpool, with Callum Smith taking on Christopher Rebrasse for the vacant WBC Silver Super Middleweight title and Rocky Fielding meeting Brian Vera for the vacant WBC International Super Middleweight title.
Martin Murray makes his bow at Super Middleweight, English Light Welterweight champion Tommy Martin meets Liverpool’s Terry Needham and there are outings for Prizefighter champion Tom Doran, Callum Johnson, Marcus Morrison and local pair Tom Farrell and Joe Tonks.