The long awaited match up with WBO Light Heavy Weight World Champion Nathan Cleverly from Wales and Tony Bellew from the great fighting city of Liverpool took place last night at the Echo Arena in Bellews back yard in Liverpool. The expectant crowd of about 6,000 fight fans were in for a treat with an mouthwatering undercard with James Degale taking on European Super Middle Weight Champion Piotr Wilczewski and other fighters from the UK including Liam Smith and Prizefighter Champion Rocky Fielding.
The fight opened with Bellew coming out to a raptuous applause and was clearly the home town favourite. He was however the underdog from a lot of pundits, but it was noted that some people in the fight game fancied Bellew to make a valied attempt at this World Title, and they were right.
Cleverly took his time to warm up in the first few rounds as Bellew constantly came forward with some blistering punches to Cleverly’s head and body and Cleverly looked somewhat uncomfortable with the onslaught and was taking some good shots, but withstanding the attacks and at times defending beautifully on the back foot picking him off with his jabs to Bellews face. Once Cleverly got into the middle rounds he became more comfortable and able to deal with Bellews constant body shots and forceful punches to the head, and was looking more and more like a World Champion.
The fight was extremely difficult to score for all 12 rounds and only one or two of them were obvious who won the 10 points and by round 9-10, it really could of been anyone’s fight. The crowd were being extremely boisterous at this point, so much so that in the middle rounds the Police had to remove some undesirable fans who were getting a bit too involved with each other! The atmosphere in the British arena was somewhat of a bear pit and was extremely intense.
When the bell sounded for the 12th round it was one of the best rounds of boxing we have seen on these shores for many years, with both pugilists standing toe to toe with one of Britain’s best referees Richie Davies taking control from the offset, only to be distracted by Bellews corner in the final 30 seconds and there appeared to be some confusion between the two fighters, and Cleverly landing a shot on Bellew when the fighters could of been told to break which could of finished the fight there and then. This could very well of been another Mayweather, Ortiz and Cortez moment, but not in a British ring, and not on this night. The final bell sounded and you could see on Bellews face that he might not of won, however it really could of been either fighter walking away victorious, and no one could argue if this had happened.
The decision was announced that it was a majority one. One decision was a draw, with the other two in favour of Cleverly. One score card read 117-112, which seemed a bit off, but that’s boxing for you. In the TV interview afterwards Tony Bellew looked completely shell shocked and for some reason kept apologising for his performance. He has nothing to be ashamed of as he gave a very brave performance and it could of been won by either fighter. He will surely now get another chance of a Title shot. Cleverly commented on how well Bellew did and there seemed to be genuine sportsmanship between the two, especially after all the needle which went on between them in the press conferences and at friday’s weigh-in. But it sold the fight and was justified as they both put on a great performance, and surely a rematch has to happen sometime soon. Frank Warren will be on the case I am sure!
Clubber rating 8/10
My score card Cleverly 115- Bellew 114
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