Tony Bellew won his first world title on this day in 2016
Lifelong Evertonian Tony Bellew achieved his dream at his beloved Goodison Park as he climbed off the canvas to brutally knockout the avoided Ilunga Makabu in the third round to pick up the vacant WBC cruiserweight title.
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Bellew had previously been unsuccessful in two attempts at world title glory, as he was on the end of a tight majority decision loss to bitter rival Nathan Cleverly in 2011, and then in 2013 he was stopped in six rounds by Adonis Stevenson. These challenges came at light heavyweight.
Following the Stevenson loss, Bellew moved up to cruiserweight, and he seemed so much more comfortale at the weight. Bellew strung six big victories together, including an avenge of his loss to Nathan Cleverly, which landed him a shot at the vacant WBC cruiserweight title against Ilunga Makabu. The fight was confirmed to take place at the home of Everton Football Club, Goodison Park.
Bellew entered the ring to a raucous atmosphere as the Everton faithful were completely behind him. However, disaster almost struck in round one, as Bellew pressured Makabu onto the ropes, but got carried away and came at him in a straight line. This lead to Makabu landing a sweet counter shot sending Bellew crashing to the canvas. Bellew would later reveal this shot broke his nose.
Bellew's trainer told Bellew he got greedy when he returned to his corner, and told him not to let the occasion get to him. Bellew took the advice and boxed smart in round two.
Round three saw Bellew catch Makabu early and send him across the ring in survival mode. Bellew backed Makabu up to the ropes and began to unload punches. The opening occured as Bellew spotted a gap and landed a clean shot on Makabu's chin which knocked Makabu cold.
Goodison Park erupted as they had just seen a lifelong Evertonian achieve his dream of becoming a world champion, producing a brutal knockout in the process. Bellew silenced the celebrations briefly as Makabu was not in a good way, when Makabu recovered, Bellew embraced him, and then continued his jubilant celebrations with his team and family.