Light heavyweight contender Tony Bellew retained his British title with a crushing fifth round TKO over Norfolk challenger Danny McIntosh, in Liverpool, Friday.
In a one-sided contest at the Echo Arena, the 29-year-old Merseyside favorite underlined his career is back on track, after last year’s narrow points loss to WBO holder Nathan Cleverly, as he proved himself to be in a completely different class to one-time European champion McIntosh (13-3, 7 knockouts).
Having taken the opening three rounds comfortably, Bellew dropped McIntosh, who kept losing his gumshield whenever in trouble, during the fourth – before finishing the job 38 seconds into the fifth with one devastating, glancing blow.
Afterwards, jubilant Bellew, while full of praise for his 32-year-old opponent, was quick to call out bitter rival Cleverly and take a swipe at the undefeated Welshman for dodging an ‘agreed’ rematch.
“I’m just so happy and over the moon. It’s down to my coaches. I was 100 per cent and I can’t thank them enough. We had a game plan and I stuck to it,” said Bellew (17-1, 11 KOs). “I tried to get in his mind and I tried to hate Danny but I couldn’t really do that because he’s a lovely kid and I wish him all the luck in the world.
“It was a good shot and I’m so glad to have finally nailed someone. We had to make a statement tonight. That was drilled into me by the coach and the gaffer. Hopefully, that was a big performance.
“I had to do it because, listen, the guy in the Valleys doesn’t want to fight me. He promised me a rematch if our fight was close but he has not kept that promise. He has broken it. I will even go to Wales to fight him. I’ll fight him tomorrow. I will fight him in his garden if he wants. I’ll go anywhere. But he doesn’t want it.”
Regards how far he might go in the 175-pound division and whether he is yet close to world class, Bellew was rather more humble.
“I don’t know what level I’m at. I still consider myself to be an unbeaten fighter – but I don’t know how good I can be,” he said. “I’ve got a good boxing brain but I don’t pretend to be the most talented boxer out there. I’m not even the most talented in my own gym.
“But what I will do is push myself as far as possible and use all my talent to its full capacity. I push it to the maximum every time. That much I do know.”