Bellew conquers Cleverly in rematch
Tony Bellew (22-2-1, 14 KOs) defeated former world champion Nathan Cleverly (28-1, 14 KOs) by a split decision in a WBO cruiserweight eliminator on Saturday night at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
The judges scores were 116-112, 115-113 for Bellew and 115-114 in favour of the Welshman.
A war of words as stemmed back to their first fight in 2011. Then WBO light heavyweight champion Cleverly won a majority decision over Bellew. Now in this rematch at cruiserweight - fireworks were expected.
It was a cagey opener that Bellew perhaps edged courtesy of a strong right hand which got through Cleverly’s guard towards the end of the round.
Bellew enjoyed more success with straight rights in the second, while Cleverly took the shots, he gave little back bar a shot that cut Bellew above the right eye. Cleverly appeared content to fight behind his jab as Bellew, with his opponent on the back foot, tried to force the fight in the 4th, and pinned Cleverly against the ropes but received a taunt for his trouble after Cleverly slipped away, resorting to some showboating, swinging his arm over his shoulder in theatrical fashion. That stopped however, when the hometown favourite punished him with a body shot. Bellew continued to work the body, rattling the ribs of Cleverly as he backed to the ropes in the 5th.
Bellew stalked Cleverly, who appeared incapable of throwing his right hand raising suspicions he had injured it, in an attempt to pin him down and land his bombs but often missing wildly. It looked set to come down to whether the judges preferred Bellew’s aggression or Cleverly’s cleaner work.
After the pair finally started to trade blows in the 8th, Bellew turned the fight in his favour with a sustained attack in the 9th as Cleverly suddenly sagged under a barrage of punches before the bell.
In the 10th, Bellew piled on more punches and Cleverly spent the entire round shielding himself on the ropes. The naturally bigger Bellew seemed to break his opponent's resolve with relentless assaults in the closing rounds.
That pattern continued until the end of the 12th.
Bellew is now likely to face reigning WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck.
Also on the card, Unbeaten 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist Anthony Joshua (10-0, 10 KOs) destroyed veteran Michael Sprott (42-23, 17 KOs) in one round. Following a barrage of punches the referee waved off the bout after just 86 seconds.
George Groves (21-2, 16 KOs) stopped American Denis Douglin (17-4, 10 KOs) in the 7th round. Groves was made to work hard in the early rounds before dropping southpaw Douglin in the 7th. When he came under pressure again moments later the referee stepped in to save him from taking too much punishment.
James DeGale (20-1, 14 KOs) scored an impressive third round TKO over Mexico's Marco Antonio Periban (20-3-1, 13 KOs). DeGale dropped Perigean with a left hand and Periban was unable to continue.
WBA super bantamweight champion Scott Quigg (30-0-2, 22 KOs) defeated Japan's Hidenori Otake (22-2-3, 9 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision. Quigg nailed Otake with several hard shots to head and body in the early rounds that the challenger soaked up and fired back with punches of his own. As the rounds wore on, Quigg caught Ohtake with more hard shots before skipping neatly out of range.
Despite Otake sustaining a large cut over his right eye opened up by another assault in round 10, he was able to take the bout to the final bell. Quigg won by scores of 119-109, 119-109, 118-110.
WBA bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell (24-2-1, 11 KOs) retained his title with a 10th round TKO over Argentine Javier Chacon (20-3, 5 KOs). It was a competitive fight until Chacon quit citing an injured right shoulder.
Other results on the card:
Callum Smith w pts 12 Nikola Sjekloca
Vincent Feigenbutz w tko 7 Olegs Fedotovs
Bradley Saunders w pts 6 Ivans Levickis