‘Rocky’ actor Bellew wins boxing title, this time for real
LIVERPOOL, England, United Kingdom — British boxer Tony Bellew turned a Hollywood fantasy into reality by becoming a world champion for the first time on Sunday.
The 33-year-old Bellew recovered from being sent to the canvas in the first round by knocking out Ilunga Makabu in the third round to win the WBC cruiserweight title. Bellew lost two world title attempts at light-heavyweight, against Nathan Cleverly in 2011 and Adonis Stevenson in 2013.
Bellew played the role of world champion “Pretty” Ricky Conlan in “Creed,” the seventh installment 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.
“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.”
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.