Bellew KO's Brudov, Brook halts Robles
Tony Bellew (21-2-1, 13 KO’s) survived a seventh-round crisis to mark his debut at cruiserweight with a late stoppage victory against Valery Brudov (41-5, 28 KO’s) on Saturday night at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Stepping up a division after failing in a second bid to win a world title at light-heavyweight, the Evertonian demonstrated his extra power, thanks to adding 16lbs in lean muscle, by putting his opponent down three times in total.
"This guy has more KO's than I've had fights. I'm happy I've done it late on too, as it shows I carry power."
Having already floored his Russian rival in the second and the sixth, Bellew made sure the judges' scorecards would not be needed with a chilling left hook in the closing minute of the contest.
However he almost suffered a knockdown himself after walking onto a big right hand in a dramatic seventh round, one that not only took his legs from him but also sent his gum shield flying out, such was the force of the blow.
Yet in attempting to pile on the pressure Brudov caught Bellew with an extremely low blow, giving him the chance to take a breather as he recovered in his corner.
The extra time allowed him to clear his head and following a rocket from trainer David Coldwell, a new addition to the Bellew corner since he was stopped by Adonis Stevenson last November, he returned to working behind his solid jab.
The 31-year-old - who had stated in the build-up to the fight he would retire if beaten in his own backyard - seemed content to go the distance until producing a spectacular finish that lifted the crowd off their feet and left poor Brudov unable to get to his before the count of 10.
"I'm happy," said Bellew. "It's a six out of 10. I won - that's the main thing.
Bellew - who had flattened Brudov in the second with a lovely straight right, then put his opponent down again with a left-right combination four rounds later - admitted he had no interest in ruling at domestic level, instead insisting his eyes were focused on another world title tilt.
"I'm 31. I'm not getting any younger," he added. "I'm in this sport to provide a living for my three boys and to become a world champion. "
Also on the card
Kell Brook (32-0, 22 KO’s) stayed on course for a world title shot with an impressive workout against tough Mexican Alvaro Robles (17-3, 15 KO’s).
Brook, who remains mandatory challenger for the IBF welterweight title, was not out of second gear to eventually get rid of Robles in the eighth round of a scheduled 10.
He took the first three minutes to size up the Mexican, who carried enough power in both hands to make Brook wary.
As ever, a sharp jab set up all the good work and his powerful right hands began to disconcert Robles, who nevertheless continued to swing out of clinches and repeatedly landed with a right to the body.
Robles was docked a point for numerous low blow offences but Brook took them in his stride and always came back with spiteful combinations and uppercuts.
Past the halfway stage Brook was looking more and more impressive, the seventh proving particularly one-sided as Robles tried to cover up as accurate blows rained down in swift succession.
The referee allowed the fight to continue but as the eighth got underway it was one-way traffic once more and mercifully the Mexican's corner threw in the towel to spare their gallant man further punishment.
"It's getting hard to get up for these kind of kids now," said Brook. "I've moved on. It's hard to get up at 5 and 6am each morning to drive and train.
"I'm only after those elite fighters now. I'm happy I got this out of the way and the next one is for the IBF strap.
"Whoever has got that belt, I want them. We know the crack and we know what's happening. I've got to get my nut down and train for that fight."
Rocky Fielding (18-0, 10 KO’s) defeated 36-year-old Ghanaian Charles Adamu (21-6, 15 KO's) by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in a fight that was supposed to have been for the vacant Commonwealth (British Empire) super middleweight title. However, Fielding failed to make weight for the fight.
The final judges scores were 120-108, 120-108, 120-108. Fielding knocked Adamu down with a jab to the head in the 7th.
Kevin Mitchell (37-2, 27 KO’s) blew out journeyman Mikheil Avakyan (21-12-4, 8 KO’s) in two rounds.
Mitchell overwhelmed his 22-year-old Georgian opponent from the outset and Mitchell was able to land his shots at will against an ungainly foe.
Avakyan was dropped twice in the first session to some rudimentary blows and after the youngster was sent down in the first minute of the second to a sharp combination referee Steve Gray had seen enough.
A shot at IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez could be next for Mitchell on the Froch-Groves undercard on May 31, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.