1st May 2012

Tony Bellew
By Elliot Foster
Liverpool’s Tony Bellew, 29, retained his British light-heavyweight title on Friday night in front of a far less than capacity crowd at the ECHO Arena against former European champion Danny McIntosh of Norwich.

Bellew had been widely criticised ahead of this fight for – some would say – being overly vocal, but the man from Wavertree was cool, calm and collected when he took part in the pre-fight press conference despite a no show from his opponent last Wednesday afternoon.

Both weighed in under the twelve stone seven light heavyweight limit; Bomber tipped the scales at twelve stone six pounds and eight ounces – the lighter of the two fighters – as Danny “Big Mac” McIntosh weighed in just two ounces heavier than the defending champion.

Ahead of the fight – unlike in Bellew’s last outing against WBO world light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly – there was enormous respect between the two men despite the absence of the challenger on Wednesday.

Bomber, three years McIntosh’s Junior, said at the Sky Sports-televised presser, “I don’t eat Big Macs, but I’ll make an exception on Friday night – he’s getting chewed up and spat out”. McIntosh, though, had vowed to give Bellew something to think about and cause a massive upset. However, this was not the case as every round went to the Everton fan before he registered a fifth-round technical count out win.

The show, named “The Big Bang”, was jointly promoted by the head of Coldwell Boxing, David Coldwell, and Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn. It proved to be a great night and most definitely lived up to the expectations of the pre-fight billing. It was a card that saw the matchmaking skills of both promoters come to the fore as we witnessed 10 bouts of great quality.

The day got off to a terrible start with the announcement that Stephen Jennings’s fight was off through the withdrawal of Mark McKray, “Jenko’s” third scheduled opponent in what would have been only his eighth professional start. Jennings took to his Twitter page on Friday to tell of his disappointment. ‘Everyone, my fight tonight is off,’ wrote Jennings. ‘I’ve had three opponents pull out. I’m absolutely heartbroken and so sorry.’

Liverpool’s Nathan Brough showed us all what we had been missing in the first fight of the night, winning every round in a 60-55 points victory against William Warburton of Atherton in Lancashire. Bough was making his return to action after a near three-year sabbatical due to recurring hand problems. Bough now has a pro ring record of 7-0-0. Warburton falls to 5-30-2.

This fight was quickly followed ring by the entrance of Hosea “The Hammer” Burton of Gallagher’s Gym. The Manchester man defeated Poland-born Robert Studzinski on points over four-threes to rise to 2-0 (1). Studzinski is now 1-7 (1). Next we saw a knockout as Andy Colquhoun of the CBF Gym in Liverpool knocked out London’s Dan Naylor in the fourth and final round. Paramedics and doctors were in the ring within seconds to ensure the well-being of Naylor, who got up and walked to his dressing room despite being somewhat dazed, which was good to see. Colquhoun is now 3-0 (1) and Naylor is 1-11 with no KOs.

The next three fights were decision victories. Heywood’s Mark Thompson, now 24-1 (14), won a six-threes decision over Kent’s Martin Welsh, 10-4 (1). Lytham’s Scott Cardle, 2-0, was taken the distance when registering a four-threes win over East Ham’s Johnny Greaves, now 3-79 (1). Darren Hamilton of Bristol fought former British lightweight challenger John Watson Jnr. of Liverpool and was the more clinical of the two on the night – the referee was right to give the decision to the man fighting out of London via Bristol by a 77-76 margin simply because there wasn’t enough work rate from Watson.

Joe Tonks of Oliver’s in Salford and Quigley’s Gym’s Nick Quigley from Liverpool both managed to add wins to their records on the night, too. There was one draw after Preston’s Matty Clarkson, 6-0-2 (1) drew with Talywain’s Jeff Evans’s, 8-2-2 (1), after a six-threes battle.

Come 22:00, when Sky’s live broadcast started, it was time for the talking to stop and the action to begin. Bellew had called McIntosh “Disrespectful” ahead of this fight and the challenger was out to prove the British champion wrong.

McIntosh catches Bellew

Fortunately for the Liverpool boxing public, it never happened that way, as after five rounds of boxing, the referee called a halt to the fight and said that McIntosh was in no fit state to continue after going down heavily.

Tony went in with the intention of finishing this fight off early – super early. He was in control from the first bell to the ding-dong of the last. The “Bomber” went in looking to load up on the big right hand. He landed a few meaningful punches in the openers that seemed to hurt McIntosh.

Bellew jabs

As the Norwich-man knew the fight was getting away from him and Bellew began to take control, he turned on the old pro’s tactics – spitting his gum shield three times. Then there was even more controversy as, on the third spit of the shield, McIntosh walked back to his corner and winked at an attendee in the front row.

McIntosh slips a right

Although Bellew hadn’t managed to drop a bomb in the first three rounds, he managed to put McIntosh on the seat of his pants in the fourth. He had more joy with it in the fourth and fifth rounds as McIntosh tried his very best to attack, but instead left his defence wide open.

Bellew lands big

The end came midway through the fifth as Bellew floored McIntosh for the second time. This left a quarter-full ECHO Arena in fits of celebration as Tony’s name rang around the 10000-seater venue. Bellew roared to 17-1 (11). McIntosh left Liverpool with a 13-3 (7) slate.

Bellew triumphant

In a word: clinical.

McIntosh shows his class

Bellew with the Lonsdale belt

Photos courtesy of “Big” Al Stevenson.

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