When light heavyweight contenders Tony Bellew of England and Isaac Chilemba of South Africa met on March 30 for the right to become the mandatory challenger to world champion Chad Dawson, they fought to an unsatisfying draw in England in a dreadful fight.
Now they are set to do it again with the title shot on the line when they meet Saturday at the O2 Arena in one of the featured bouts on the Mikkel Kessler-Carl Froch II undercard (on Sky Box Office pay-per-view in Great Britain).
"I wanted the rematch straight away and he basically had nowhere to go," Bellew said. "He is somebody who no one wants to fight because at the end of the day Isaac Chilemba is in the 'who-needs-you' club because he doesn't come to fight. He comes to make you miss and make you look bad."
Indeed, while Bellew (19-1-1, 12 KOs), 30, is typically an aggressive fighter, Chilemba (20-1-2, 9 KOs), 26, played the spoiler role in the first bout. Bellew is hoping he comes to fight this time.
"Ideally, we match up very well and we match up to make a really, really great fight but you can't force a guy to fight in that ring," Bellew said. "To make a great fight happen it takes two to tango and it takes two guys who really want to have a fight. I am willing to play my part in it. It is whether he is willing to play his part. The real big difference on the night will be in my output and this time I am not going to stop after seven rounds. That is the top and bottom of it. I am not going to fall apart halfway through the fight.
"I didn't perform last time, it is as simple as that. I did not perform to anywhere near the best of my ability or my potential and I was very disappointed in myself. While I still think I won, and he knows I won deep down, I still didn't perform well enough and I am paying for that by having this rematch."
Chilemba also feels like he won the first fight.
"I feel like I've already beaten Tony, but apparently that wasn't enough, so this time I am getting in the ring with full intentions of surpassing my last performance," Chilemba said. "If Tony thought he had it tough in our last bout, then he better be ready this time around because he is in for the fight of his life.
"I am sharper, stronger and definitely healthier this time around. I will adjust and do whatever is necessary to beat him and bring the victory home. The changes that I made this time were mostly to do with my approach to the camp and keeping healthy. [Trainer] Buddy [McGirt] has made a few changes in the ring with me as well."
When the March fight ended one judge had it 114-114, one had it 116-115 for Bellew and one had it 116-112 for Chilemba.
Dawson is defending his title against Adonis Stevenson on June 8 in Montreal. The winner will have to take on the winner of Bellew-Chilemba II.
Bellew thinks Dawson's skills will trump Stevenson's freakish power.
"I think Dawson is too clever for Stevenson," Bellew said. "But Stevenson has an equaliser in that right hand. He can really, really punch. I am not looking too much into that fight. I will pay attention to that once I beat Chilemba, but my head says Dawson because he is at that level and has dealt with people at that level many times before but you can never write off a puncher and Stevenson is definitely, definitely a puncher."