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Tony Bellew joins Martin Murray on Sept. 5 Leeds show

Fighters Network
Tony Bellew (R) vs. Nathan Cleverly. Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images.

Tony Bellew (R) vs. Nathan Cleverly. Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images.

British cruiserweight Tony Bellew will return to the ring early next month at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, England, after replacing light heavyweight prospect Callum Johnson on the Matchroom show.

The unbeaten Johnson (13-0, 8 knockouts) was slated to face fellow Englishman Tony Hill in Yorkshire on Sept. 5 but, according to a press release on Thursday, has been forced to withdraw because of a virus.

That has paved the way for Liverpool man Bellew (24-2-1, 15 KOs) to shelve his recent acting career – he has been in America for the filming of “Creed,” the next release in the iconic Rocky series – and continue his quest to land a title shot at 200 pounds.

Eddie (Hearn) and I have things planned going forward but this outing in Leeds is a bonus for me to stay active and try things out,” said Bellew, 32, who in June labored to a 10th-round TKO against Croatian journeyman Ivica Bacurin.

I’d been ill ahead of my last fight. I’m not making excuses, but I just chose to get the rounds in and in the end I did get him out of there. It was good to get through that after eight months out. In Leeds it’s another vital building block to another world-title shot.”

Also in action in Leeds is Martin Murray (31-2-1, 14 KOs), 32, who faces hard-hitting Colombian Jose Miguel Torres (31-6, 27 KOs).

This is the perfect fight for Martin and his first real test since the Gennady Golovkin fight,” said Matchroom supremo Eddie Hearn, referring to the St. Helens man’s 11th-round TKO loss in February. “Torres always comes to fight, is exciting to watch and can really punch. He has been in at elite level and neither will take a step backwards in Leeds.”

British sports writer Harry Pratt is on Twitter: @gharrypratt