• Tony Bellew won the vacant WBC cruiserweight world title at Goodison Park with a third round knockout victory over Ilunga Makabu
  • The die-hard Everton fan was briefly knocked down in the opening round
  • A barrage of punches in the third saw the Congolese fighter taken apart

Riath Al-Samarrai for the Daily Mail

A nightmare start and a Hollywood ending. How fitting for Tony Bellew, Liverpool’s master of drama, that he should be dumped on the canvas in the first and then rise as a world champion three brutal and pulsating rounds later.

He climbed on to the ropes and screamed, beating his chest with something similar to the force that left Ilunga Makabu dangling over the side of the ring and unconscious a moment earlier.

For a worrying time the Congolese fighter just lay there, out of it and in some distress from the furious flurry of lefts and rights that turned this fight on its head.  

Tony Bellew screams after realising his 'dream' by winning a world title at his beloved Goodison Park

Tony Bellew screams after realising his ‘dream’ by winning a world title at his beloved Goodison Park

Bellew unleashed a barrage of punches to knock out pre-fight favourite Ilunga Makubu in the third round

Bellew unleashed a barrage of punches to knock out pre-fight favourite Ilunga Makubu in the third round

Congolese fighter Makabu falls to the canvas unconscious as the referee stops the fight

Congolese fighter Makabu falls to the canvas unconscious as the referee stops the fight

The Everton fan claimed the vacant WBC cruiserweight title with a sensational victory in front of 'home' fans

The Everton fan claimed the vacant WBC cruiserweight title with a sensational victory in front of ‘home’ fans

Bellew reacts after coming back from a first round knockdown to win his first world title

Bellew reacts after coming back from a first round knockdown to win his first world title

Trainer Dave Coldwell races into the ring as Bellew drops to his knees to take in the victory

Trainer Dave Coldwell races into the ring as Bellew drops to his knees to take in the victory

Thankfully, he was brought around and moved to his stool as bedlam engulfed the ring with Bellew a world champion at the third time of asking, winning the vacant WBC cruiserweight belt in the same Goodison Park stadium where he appeared in the most recent Rocky film.

A Hollywood finish it was. But initially it looked like being the same old story, because make no mistake, Bellew was in serious trouble.

He had seemingly started the fight in perfect fashion, setting the pace with jabs and then, with increased confidence, some hooks. He was pawing at Makabu, lining him up and landing to head and body. Did he get complacent? Evidently so.

Makabu had thrown nothing but in a flash unleashed a huge left straight down the middle, hitting Bellew flush and leaving him on his backside with a mangled nose. He got to his feet immediately and the bell went but what a crushing start. His trainer Dave Coldwell told him to calm down and clearly he listened.

The second, as a result, was far less dramatic, with Bellew bloodying Makabu’s nose but taking a far more cautious approach and just about shading the session. 

The Scouse fighter started brightly but was caught and briefly floored at the end of the opening round

The Scouse fighter started brightly but was caught and briefly floored at the end of the opening round

Bellew catches Makubu with a left hook before knocking him out with a flurry of punches

Bellew catches Makubu with a left hook before knocking him out with a flurry of punches

On to the brilliant third. Bellew set the pace and again got his opponent to the ropes. Again he unloaded, despite the risk that what happened in the first might happen again. But it didn’t.

He threw three big rights in a furious burst and then, finally, landed the punch that made him a world champion. A huge left he will never forget.

Makabu took a concerning amount of time to come through, but he recovered, a big hitter with 18 knockouts in 19 fights who had just lost a furious shootout.

Bellew, who lost title tilts to Nathan Cleverly and Adonis Stevenson, was dancing a jig in among the madness. Six months on from his big film moment, he followed an even better script.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the fight, Bellew said: ‘I am Everton. That’s why I got up. Nothing was going to stop me tonight. I can’t put it into words. 

‘My son’s never been to a fight. I cried in the dressing room because he broke my heart when I looked at his little face – he looks like his mother.

‘I am world champion. That’s what I am. All I do is I believe in my coach and all these people around me. My family. I do it all for them. The only thing I really have to say: ‘Everton…’ 

‘The last time I saw that, I was in a Hollywood movie and now it’s real.

‘I lived a dream tonight. I’m the best cruiserweight in the world. Denis Lebedev – I’m not coming to Russia. Come and get this because I’ve got the main belt now. Or that b**** from Bermondsey (David Haye). Come back down to your natural weight and fight me.

Bellew stands up on the ropes to take the acclaim from his adoring fans at Goodison Park

Bellew stands up on the ropes to take the acclaim from his adoring fans at Goodison Park

Former Everton manager David Moyes was at Goodison Park to watch the home favourite come good

Former Everton manager David Moyes was at Goodison Park to watch the home favourite come good

‘Nobody’s done that to Ilunga Makabu before. Noone. I am the best cruiserweight in the world. This is the only fight in my whole life I’ve gone into and dreamed for three weeks that I lose.

‘There’s not a man I’ve sparred or fought that I haven’t heard. I got a reaction. The left hand dropped me and it broke my nose immediately. There was nothing keeping me on the floor. 

‘When I’m fighting in this Park, I’m the closest thing to unbeatable since Floyd Mayweather.’

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