Liverpool’s Tony Bellew won the vacant WBC cruiserweight title with a sensational third-round knockout of Ilunga Makabu at Goodison Park.

Bellew, challenging for a world title for a third time, was floored by a left hand in the opening round.

However, Bellew rocked Makabu with a left hook and right uppercut before rendering him unconscious with a barrage of blows.

He becomes the 13th current British world champion.

“He broke my nose with that left hand,” Bellew told BBC Radio 5 live on Monday.

“I’m talking through my nose now and it’s smashed to bits, but I have a green and gold belt. If you had to take my nose off my face for that belt I’d take it.”

In winning the belt, Bellew made fantasy real life, having fought for a world title at the home of his beloved Everton FC in the latest Rocky film.

An estimated 15,000 fans gathered for the first ever boxing show at Goodison and the atmosphere was fevered by the time Bellew walked to the ring, to the strains of the Z-Cars theme tune, the traditional Everton anthem.

Bellew had the better of the opening exchanges but found himself on the canvas at the end of the first round, Makabu having soaked up a flurry of blows before springing from the ropes and landing with a peach of a left hand.

The home fighter, 33, probably nicked an uneventful second before the fight was blown open in the third.

The Congolese southpaw had won 19 of his 20 previous pro fights, 18 of them by knockout, and clearly believed he would prevail in a war.

But having thrown caution to the wind and abandoned his defences, Bellew softened Makabu up with a succession of juddering right hands.

And when Makabu was rocked by a left-right combination and retreated to the ropes, Bellew hunted him down and finished the job with a lethal left hook.

There was genuine concern as Makabu lay unconscious on the canvas but he was revived after about a minute and lifted onto his stool.

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