Tony Bellew outpointed fellow light heavyweight contender Isaac Chilemba in their rematch on the Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler II undercard on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London. RingTV.com contributor Tom Gray was ringside for this undercard report:
Tony Bellew vs. Isaac Chilemba II
Bellew (19-1-1, 12 knockouts) outpointed Chilemba (20-1-2, 9 KOs) in a 12-round WBC eliminator rematch at light heavyweight but could do without seeing the nifty Malawian in a boxing ring ever again.
The contest was scored 116-112 twice and 117-112 which, for this reporter, seemed uncomfortably wide.
Bellew, THE RING’s No. 8-rated contender, started well by forcing his man on the back foot with a steady left lead and well-aimed power shots. “Golden Boy” Chilemba, THE RING No. 7-rated light heavyweight going into the bout, wore a look of trepidation but managed to avoid anything which might have ended his night early by slipping and bending at the waist.
Sensing that a gap was developing the 26 year old found his form in the fifth and began making Bellew miss. “The Bomber” introduced a dangerous looking right uppercut but Chilemba evaded that weapon with ease, clipped the Brit on the counter and located escape routes.
Bellew was punching holes through the air at this stage of the bout.
Chilemba’s gum shield was dislodged at the start of round six but, when replaced, he bit down and posted another good round by frustrating the Liverpool star with brilliantly timed return fire. The pattern of the fight seemed ominous as Chilemba closed well in fight one and was showing signs of doing so again.
Bellew began to smother his slippery opponent in rounds eight and nine which worked because one was forced to give him the rounds on work rate. As with the first encounter the action was difficult to score and the crowd was eerily silent, perhaps in anticipation of the main event.
As the championship rounds began Chilemba was still scoring effectively on the inside and Bellew could not find the range. The thirty year old was guilty of over shooting the right hand and walked on to Chilemba’s own right as a result.
One could literally feel The Bomber’s frustration mounting.
Showing real grit the diehard Brit upped the ante in the final round and made one last drive for glory. He pounded his opponent backwards and took away counter punch opportunities, securing the session, and the fight, on sheer desire.
The fighters weighed in at 174.75 and 174.25 respectively.
George Groves vs. Noe Gonzalez Alcoba
George “Saint” Groves (18-0, 14 KOs) looked needle sharp in dispatching Noe Gonzalez (30-2, 22 KOs) in the fifth round of a super middleweight attraction which was scheduled for twelve.
The time was 0.51 and both fighters weighed in at 167lbs.
A pulverizing one two combination thwarted any hopes El Carbonero had of dethroning one of Britain’s most talented contenders and it was very impressive that the Uruguayan managed to beat the ten count. When he did the referee smartly waved off the contest.
Groves, THE RING’s No. 7-rated super middleweight, started brilliantly with a rapid left lead which as followed by an accurate cross as well as thumping right hooks to head and body. Gonzalez was bewildered by what was in front of him and failed to land anything significant due to the adept lateral movement the skilled twenty five year old was displaying.
A powerful array of shots hurt Gonzalez at ring center in round two and the Uruguayan tottered backwards to the ropes and fell into a defensive cocoon. Upon recovery there was a touch more ambition but he was being completely outclassed.
Groves wasn’t quite as accurate in the third but he let his hands go unlike his opponent. To this point the Brit was enjoying a cake walk and he could afford to take his time and pick his spots.
Gonzalez went back to a tight defense in the fourth but suddenly opened up with his first serious assault. Groves welcomed the charge and countered briskly with hard shots which were released from an effective crouch.
Things were never going to get any better for Gonzalez and the stunning finish saved the thirty four year old from a prolonged beating.
Groves had completed part of his preparation in Denmark, with Mikkel Kessler, in a move which angered compatriot, Carl Froch. Although “The Saint” did not call out his countryman he made it clear that he has closed the gap and a world title attack beckoned regardless of which champion he faces.
Photos: Scott Heavey-Gettyimages
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and contributes to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing