Life imitates art as ‘Rocky’ star Tony Bellew wins cruiserweight world title with devastating knockout

Hollywood actor recovers from a first round knock-down to win the vacant WBC cruiserweight world title against Ilunga Makabu

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 May, 2016, 9:53am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 May, 2016, 9:53am

Hollywood actor Tony Bellew turned a Hollywood fantasy into reality after recovering from a first round knock-down to win the vacant WBC cruiserweight world title with a third round knock-out of Ilunga Makabu on Sunday.

I got knocked down but that’s what I do. I told you I am Everton. That’s why I got up. Nothing was going to stop me tonight
Tony Bellew

It was a case of third time lucky for Everton fan Bellew after twice coming up short when challenging for light-heavyweight world titles previously, against Nathan Cleverly in 2011 and Adonis Stevenson in 2013.

Bellew played the role of world champion “Pretty” Ricky Conlan in “Creed,” the seventh instalment in the “Rocky” series that was released last year. The climax to the movie saw Bellew’s character beat Adonis Johnson – the son of Apollo Creed – in a world light-heavyweight fight at Everton’s Goodison Park stadium, the Premier League soccer club that Bellew has supported since he was a child.

It was arranged for Bellew to fight again at Goodison, this time for real against Congo fighter Makabu, and the result was the same.

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The Liverpudlian picked himself off the canvas after a hard first round knock-down to knock his Congolese opponent out cold in the third at Everton’s Goodison Park football stadium.

“The last time I saw something like that, I was in a Hollywood movie, now it’s real,” Bellew said. “I’ve lived the dream tonight. I am the best cruiserweight in the world, I have proven it tonight.”

“I got knocked down but that’s what I do,” Bellew told Sky Sports.

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“I told you I am Everton. That’s why I got up. Nothing was going to stop me tonight.

“I cried in the dressing room two hours ago when I got here. I achieved the dream tonight, I am world champion, that’s what I am.”

After an incident-packed first round, when Makabu soaked up a slew of shots before countering with a straight left hand that put Bellew down, both fighters were more cautious in the second. Blood, though, was still pouring from their noses after they traded hefty blows.

Bellew went full out in the next round, rocking Makabu with a left hook and right uppercut before finishing him off with a series of punches culminating in a left hook. Makabu looked seriously hurt but was lifted onto his stool after a short period.

“Nothing was going to stop me tonight,” said Bellew, who moved to 27-2-1 (17 KOs).

Bellew becomes Britain’s 13th current world champion in boxing.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press