Tony Bellew is on a collision course with bitter rival Nathan Cleverly after vowing to give the man he labels a fraud “a good hiding”.
Both Liverpudlian Bellew and his former conqueror Cleverly have moved up from light-heavyweight to cruiserweight following defeats in their most recent fights.
While Bellew came up short against WBC champion Adonis Stevenson in November, Cleverly lost his WBO belt to Sergey Kovalev in Cardiff.
Each man harbours ambitions of world title glory at the higher weight and Bellew expects the two could meet in the near future in a rematch of the Welshman’s close majority decision win in 2011.
Assessing his plan to win a world title at the third attempt, Bellew told Press Association Sport: “I know my promoter Eddie Hearn is keen on getting me in against this other clown (Cleverly) and wants to make it happen. I’ll do it.
“He’s the only person in boxing I truly despise. I don’t like Adonis Stevenson as a person but he’s a great fighter whereas I just despise the other fella on every level. I detest him. The way he looks at me, looking down his nose, thinking he’s something he’s not.”
Bellew said of mathematics graduate Cleverly: “He’s a fraud. He doesn’t even want to be a boxer.
“If I have to go through him to get a world title fight then so be it. I’m happy to do it.
“I basically had to beg for the rematch after the first fight and was told ‘no’. Everyone knows how much I wanted it – and how much he didn’t want it.
“Now he has nowhere to go. He sells about 10 tickets in his hometown while in Liverpool we can sell 10,000. I believe he needs me now and I don’t need him. But with my attitude towards him, I’d love nothing more than to give him a good hiding.”
Bellew, 31, admits the move up to cruiserweight was overdue.
“If it’s not broken then don’t fix it and I was making the weight for years and while it was a struggle, it was working for me,” he said. “It wasn’t ‘broken’. But Adonis Stevenson broke it. He shattered it.
“But it’s up to me to fix it, it’s a simple as that, and I’m going to do what I should have done maybe two or three years ago and do what I’ve got to do by moving up. I’m sure I’ll get back to where I was a light-heavyweight at cruiserweight.”
Of his sixth-round stoppage defeat by Canada-based Haitian Stevenson, Bellew, who debuts at cruiserweight against Valery Brudov on March 16, said: “He’s the biggest pound-for-pound puncher in the world and one of the most in-form fighters on the planet.
“I’ve never chosen the easy route to world titles or the easy route in fights and I came up short against Stevenson.
“Stevenson is a pretty disgusting human being but he’s an outstanding, amazing fighter with an amazing punch and an amazing defence. I give him his due on the fighting.
“I’ve never done things the easy way and never shirked a challenge and I’m not going to start now.”