Tony Bellew has reflected on the night he won his long coveted world title – and admitted that the ring walk that night was a nerve wrecking experience.
Bellew stopped Illunga Makabu in the third round to send Goodison Park into delirium as the Liverpool man was crowned WBC world cruiserweight champion.
However, speaking on the Winners Talking podcast, Bellew revealed that the moments leading up to the fight were amongst the most panic inducing he experienced during his career – due to the fear that those he shared his city with would deem him a fraud if he was unsuccessful that night.
“Walking to that ring that night, I was panicking like f**k. I was thinking to myself, ‘I’ve been telling everyone for the last 15 years that I’m going to become a world champion at Goodison Park. If I lose this fight then I’m the biggest bulls****er this city has world ever seen.'”
“When it’s actually in front of you and you walk to the ring, the panic sets in.”
“The only thing I can say is, when I stepped through the ropes, that was all done.”
The fight with Makabu was ‘The Bomber’s third attempt at world honours, having fell short against Nathan Cleverly and Adonis Stevenson in his two prior attempts.
After two shock wins at heavyweight against David Haye, Bellew returned to cruiserweight for a shot at then undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk.
In what would he his last time in a boxing ring, Bellew fell short against the mercurial Ukrainian, and was stopped in the eighth round at the Manchester Arena.
Now enjoying retirement and plenty of time with his wife and kids, Bellew is likely to remain in the pundits chair safely outside of the ring.