Former WBC Cruiserweight Champion, Tony Bellew, has revealed one of the most torrid nights of his career, admitting that one fight gave him a ‘wake up call’ and made him ‘cry himself to sleep’.
After twice defeating Ovill McKenzie for the Commonwealth and then British Light-Heavyweights titles, ‘The Bomber’ jumped up to a shot at a world title, taking on Nathan Cleverly for the WBO belt, birthing one of Britain’s boxing rivalries.
It was Cleverly who came out on top in the grudge match. The Welshman made a second successful defence of the strap with a majority-decision win, handing Bellew the first defeat of his career.
Two years and four wins later, Bellew packed his bags for a first professional fight outside of the United Kingdom, travelling to Canada for a second world title shot, where he would face Adonis Stevenson for the WBC crown.
Unlike the Cleverly clash, the Brit was completely outclassed by the hometown fighter before he was knocked out in the sixth round, a moment that caused a huge impact in Bellew’s life, he told The Ring Magazine.
“The Adonis Stevenson fight was a massive wake up call.”
“Up against Stevenson, my world got crushed. It was the first time I’d ever been stopped in my life. It was heart-breaking.
I went back to my room and cried myself to sleep because I thought I’d just wasted 10-15 years of my life chasing this dream and you tell yourself, ‘I’m not good enough to be a world champion. I’ve put all my eggs in one basket, here. I’ve got no qualifications. I’ve finished school’.
I’m not going to tell you the thoughts that were going through my head when I came home.”
Of course, those self-doubts were proved wrong when Bellew became a cruiserweight world champion in fairytale fashion in 2016, knocking out Ilunga Makabu at Goodison Park, home of his beloved Everton Football Club.