One of Merseyside's favourite boxing sons, passionate Evertonian Tony 'Bomber' Bellew, makes the first defence of his WBC cruiserweight belt against BJ Flores at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Saturday 15 October.

How to watch

In the United Kingdom, Bellew vs Flores is available to watch live on Sky Sports. Initial coverage of the undercard begins at 18.00 BST on Sky Sports 3 HD before switching to Sky Sports 2 two hours later.

Preview

For someone who has experienced the glitz and glamour of Hollywood in his role as 'Pretty' Ricky Conlan in Rocky spin-off Creed, Bellew's win over Ilunga Makabu in May was entirely fitting of a movie script. Making a third attempt at winning a world title after previous defeats to Nathan Cleverly and Adonis Stevenson at light-heavyweight, the 33-year-old, who moved up a division after that latter loss in Quebec, dominated the opening exchanges yet quickly found himself in trouble after being caught flush by a powerful left hand from the dangerous, big-hitting southpaw.

Despite suffering a broken nose during that exchange, the endlessly determined Bellew was simply not to be denied and he broke down in tears after finally realising his dream with a flurry of heavy third-round shots that left an overwhelmed Makabu first slumped against the ropes and then motionless on the canvas. The fact that such an achievement, after so many years of waiting, came in front of an adoring hometown crowd on sacred ground at Everton's Goodison Park made it all the sweeter.

Tony Bellew
Bellew was picture of emotion following his victory over Ilunga Makabu at Goodison Park Alex Livesey/Getty Images

After undoubtedly the most memorable night of his career, Bomber's next challenge is to put a decisive end to his long-running war of words with Flores. The veteran Californian, nicknamed El Peligroso or "The Dangerous", has exchanged plenty of barbs with the equally feisty Bellew on social media over recent months.

"I am looking at unifying the division and then take on the b*tch from Bermondsey," said Bellew, referencing his desire to face old rival and former undisputed cruiserweight king David Haye in a lucrative showdown in early 2017.

Haye is a friend of the challenger and, according to Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn at least, will be in his dressing room before Saturday's bout. Flores, a former amateur champion who also works as a boxing analyst for NBC Sports in the United States, is competing for a full world title for the very first time aged 37 after being outpointed by Beibut Shumenov for the interim WBA championship last summer and having previously come up short against former IBO title-holder Danny Green. His last outing was a decision victory over Roberto Santos in Las Vegas.

David Haye
Bellew is targeting a big-money bout against David Haye in 2017 Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

What the boxers have said

Tony Bellew: "I have to win and win in good fashion, so that probably does mean a knockout. I don't know how far he is willing to go, how much he is willing to take. But I know I'm willing to throw the kitchen sink, the whole lot, at him."

BJ Flores: "I have a game plan to execute and I'm actually looking forward to the fact that he is going to try to be the first to knock me out. I like that he is going to be looking for the knockout rather than just looking to win the fight. People have to remember you win a fight one round at a time. You shouldn't go into it looking for a knockout to win.

"So I think that could definitely play to my advantage - plus the fact I think he is kind of overlooking me. He is going to have to find out the answers, the key to the puzzle to try to defeat me, and he thinks he knows how to do it - he says he can knock me out. He always says things like this before the fight and it will be interesting to see this time if he is actually able to do it. And if he is able to, then give this guy a big pat on the back, because it has never happened before. If he can do that I'll buy him a beer and shake his hand."

BJ Flores
BJ Flores alongside Marv Albert and Sugar Ray Leonard on NBC Sports Elsa/Getty Images

Records

Bellew: 30 fights, 27 wins (17 knockouts)

  • (W) Ilunga Makabu - knockout - May 2016
  • (W) Mateusz Masternak - unanimous decision - December 2015
  • (W) Arturs Kulikauskis - technical knockout - September 2015

Flores: 35 fights, 32 wins (20 knockouts)

  • (W) Roberto Santos - unanimous decision - May 2016
  • (L) Beibut Shumenov - unanimous decision - July 2015
  • (W) Kevin Engel - technical knockout - October 2014

Prediction

Bellew to retain his title via a comfortable decision win.

Odds (via Betfair)

Tony Bellew 1/12

BJ Flores 7/1

Draw 28/1

Undercard

Luke Campbell
Luke Campbell faces Derry Mathews on the Bellew-Flores undercard Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Luke Campbell vs Derry Mathews - for Campbell's WBC silver lightweight title

Ryan Burnett vs Ryan Farrag - for Burnett's British bantamweight belt

Sean Dodd vs Francesco Patera - for Dodd's WBC international lightweight championship

Tom Farrell vs Farid Hakimi - for the vacant WBA international super-lightweight title

Rocky Fielding vs Istvan Zeller

Scott Fitzgerald vs Adam Jones

Mairis Briedis vs Simon Vallily

Paul Economides vs Elvis Guillen

Gerard Carroll vs Irvin Magno

Steve Brogan vs Chris Adaway

Craig Glover vs Rolandas Cesna