Bellew blasts 'plastic' Cleverly
Tony Bellew reignited his fierce rivalry with Nathan Cleverly by branding him a "plastic world champion" moments after the Liverpool fighter claimed a fifth-round stoppage over Julio Cesar Dos Santos at the Liverpool Echo arena.
Home favourite Bellew tasted victory over his Brazilian opponent in his second fight at cruiserweight following a debut victory over Valery Brudov in March.
Sparks flew immediately after the bout, with Cleverly and Bellew trading words at ringside. Cleverly had earlier defeated Alejandro Valori in a fourth-round stoppage, with the victory pointing to a grudge rematch with Bellew.
Welshman Cleverly successfully defended his WBO light-heavyweight title against Bellew in October 2011 before losing the belt to Russia's Sergey Kovalev last August.
A fired-up Bellew called for Cleverly to face him inside the ropes, telling Sky Sports 1 after his fight: "He knows I want to do it. He knows what I want and we can do it. I ain't 175 [pounds] now. We both know deep down that I was dead at them scales. The tables have turned son.
"I ain't a 16-fight novice who has only fought at British title level. I am now an established pro who has fought better pros than you in lesser fights.
"Let's get this straight, I've achieved the same (as you). You're a plastic world champion. You were never a true world champion. We fought for a belt that shouldn't have even been a world title. It was no better than a domestic title.
"Forget that belt, forget everything. I just want to hurt you."
Cleverly was keen to engage in a war of words with Bellew. "Don't worry about this talking. I've already come to his home town and beat this guy and guess what? I'm going to do it again and this time it will be in Cardiff.
"Keep on talking mate because I've already beaten you. I'm going to spank you again. I've already spanked you and I'm going to do it again."
Promoter Eddie Hearn gave a strong indication that the rematch would take place before the end of the year. "We're looking at October or November, here, Manchester or London, it doesn't matter. It's going to be a great fight."
Earlier on the undercard, Anthony Joshua claimed a second-round knockout of Matt Skelton while Liverpool-born Rocky Fielding extended his unbeaten record to 19-0 with a fifth-round stoppage of Uruguayan Noe Gonzalez.
"It was a serious fight, but it's the step up that a needed to bring out the best in me," Fielding said. "It was a good statement so people will be talking about me a bit - I got a lot of stick after my last fight, which wasn't the best, but hopefully I'll get a bit of credit now.
Callum Smith was also victorious with an impressive all-round performance earning a points victory over Vladine Biosse to defend his WBC International title.
Smith said: "I've been wanting that for a long time. I needed rounds and I think it was a good patient performance. He was a clever opponent but I always knew that I had the upper hand."
Meanwhile, brother Stephen Smith defended also earned a points victory over Pedro Naverrete - but was far from happy with his performance.
"We all have those nights," he admitted. "I'm not going to sit here and make excuses, I just had one of those nights. I'm not too disappointed with the result just the performance, but ask anyone they'll tell you you can't be 100% every time."
Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell remains unbeaten since turning professional after London 2012 with victory over Craig Woodruff. Campbell, who announced earlier this year he would take a break from boxing after his father was diagnosed with cancer, edged the 21-year-old Welshman on points.
In the opening match of the evening, another London 2012 star - bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo - made it seven wins from seven professional fights as he beat Wayne Reed with a fifth-round TKO.