This intense fight and ultimate decision warranted the rematch
Tony Bellew has consistently been a source of entertainment for the British boxing fans. Never short of a word or two, the build up to this world title showdown with Welsh WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly was intense. After a confusing surrendering of the title from German Jürgen Brähmer due to, first, a suspended prison sentence and then an injury; Cleverly picked up the belt without a fight. He then went on to knockout a generally unknown Aleksy Kuziemski after Tony Bellew could not make weight as a replacement.
The fight would take place in Liverpool echo arena months later. Bellew, a proud Liverpudlian stoked up a belligerent crowd leading to a scuffle at the weigh in.
The first round was more of the same, with Cleverly steaming out of his corner on the sound of the opening bell. The two exchanged blows before Bellew was given a stern ticking off by the ref for what was deemed an intentional headbutt.
Bellew, the British and Commonwealth champion, had Cleverly in trouble in round two with a chopping right hand. Bellew who was fighting taller was able to crash his hard shots down on Cleverly, but the champion settled in behind his jab in the third and was landing with the cleaner shots. The piping jab kept the hostile Bellew off his tail as Cleverly found his rhythm.
Round 4 saw Cleverly continue his good form, mainly standing his ground to technically out box Bellew, having now recovered from any real damage.
Bellew upped the tempo as his left hook to the body began to redden Cleverly sides at the beginning of round five. Cleverly landed with a low blow, perhaps not entirely without spite, which put a brief halt in the action. Bellew fought back by level changing upstairs and down, jabbing to the head to set up his looping hooks to the body, with some landing. However Bellew had expelled a lot of energy. By round six the challenger appeared to be running out of steam as Cleverly peppered his body with hurtful body shots and hooks behind the guard.
Round seven followed a similar pattern, cleverly piercing his rival’s defence with crisp hooks and uppercuts, but Bellew soaked up the punishment, playing possum and taking many of the shots on the arms in a tight defence. This tactic would prove crucial as round eight was Bellew’s. Rising like a phoenix, Bellew came out jabbing and moving, landing some big hard shots. Cleverly came back himself snapping the head of Bellew but was wobbled by a counter right hand.
Cleverly took a rest in round nine, covering up intelligently as Bellews looping hooks were picked off by the most part by Cleverley’s elbows. Bellew focused his attack in the following round and landed with a vindictive right cross that had Cleverly, who was fighting on the back foot by this stage, leaning on the ropes and swinging wildly. Both men dug down to connect in trench warfare. The two show genuine animosity as a partisan crowd rose to their feet. This really was a contender for round of the year in 2011, a must watch!
Cleverly nicked the remainder of the rounds with a defensive and cagey ring presence. Bellew unable to get a third wind. Cleverly won a close and some think contentious mixed decision. The decision warranted a rematch which ultimately had Bellew concluding the fight in a split decision his direction which was less contentious and less entertaining.