• Nathan Cleverly v Tony Bellew

Bellew could face censure after AA jibe

ESPN staff
November 21, 2014
Tony Bellew claimed Nathan Cleverly is not the 'cleant-cut guy' he likes to pretend he is © Getty Images

Tony Bellew has risked punishment by the boxing authorities by appearing to allege that Nathan Cleverly has a drinking problem before their blockbuster rematch on Saturday.

As the fighters faced off at Thursday's weigh-in, Bellew asked: "Been to any AA meetings lately?"

The question was taken to refer to Alcoholics Anonymous, but Cleverly, who denied a drinking problem, shrugged off the accusation and predicted that Bellew will have to explain himself to the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC).

"I honestly don't know what he's referring to," Cleverly said. "He tried personal insults before the first fight and this AA one is a new one. He's desperate to rattle me but I'm too strong. He's making these things up and waffling on. He needs a good slap and he's going to get one.

"Who doesn't enjoy life around work? I do but to make an accusation like that is insulting to me. It's no major issue to me but on a wider horizon, in terms of the Boxing Board, they'll probably do something about it."

BBBC general secretary Robert Smith vowed to review the incident and insisted that he had no evidence to suggest Cleverly had a drinking problem.

"Mr Cleverly has no history of alcohol abuse," Smith told the Daily Mail. He has passed every medical and blood test and has never caused us concern. We will look at the whole interview but I cannot comment until I've seen it."

Bellew later feigned ignorance when asked about the jibe.

He asked: "What does AA mean? What's that? I'm just saying what does AA stand for?"

When the meaning was explained to him, Bellew added: "Is it? Is that what he's been up to? For an athlete like that to attend those classes, a strong-minded athlete! We've opened a can of worms haven't we? I can't believe it!

"He said he hasn't been for 18 months. I seem to know an awful lot more about him than he knows about me.

"I'm just letting people know he is not this clean-cut guy that he likes to pretend he is, going on as if I'm some street thug. This guy can't even stay on the straight and narrow for himself."

The fighters face each other at Liverpool's Echo Arena on Saturday in a rematch of their 2011 bout, with the pair's rivalry set to reach boiling point as Bellew attempts to avenge his defeat by Cleverly three years ago.

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