Tony Bellew had home field advantage at Goodison Park in Liverpool for the biggest and best world title chance of his career, and though things didn't start as he wanted, he finished in grand fashion, sending his home fans into a frenzy and winning the WBC cruiserweight title.
Bellew (27-2-1, 17 KO) looked in control in the first round, his heavy hands backing Makabu (19-2, 18 KO) against the ropes and into the corner, but Bellew got ahead of himself, and tumbled over on a left hand counter shot from Makabu at the end of the round, swinging it from 10-9 Bellew to 10-8 Makabu in an instant.
The second round saw Bellew showing more respect to Makabu, who didn't really want to lead the dance, instead trying to bait and trap Bellew. But the third was an absolute beatdown, as Bellew came out pressing, once again pushed Makabu to the ropes, and just kept firing away. He took the risks that got him caught in the first round, that maybe weren't the smartest idea. With Makabu struggling to cover up and still occasionally punch back to keep the referee from stepping in, Bellew just kept letting the fists fly, and eventually caught Makabu flush.
With Makabu sagging and crumbling to the canvas, referee Victor Loughlin stepped in, and Bellew's world title dream came true.
Make no mistake, this was truly a win for Bellew, 33, to hang his hat on. Makabu is a legitimate contender and a good fighter, and this was no creampuff world title fight that was carefully orchestrated by promoters. Bellew had to earn this one against a dangerous opponent. He didn't just beat him, he smashed him down with authority, improving to 7-0 (5 KO) during his time as a cruiserweight, where his power and style seem to suit him better than when he was campaigning as a light heavyweight.
"Pretty" Ricky Conlan was fantasy. This is real. Tony Bellew has joined the top level of the cruiserweight division.