So the scene was set, Liverpool, Bellew’s hometown where the two enemies Nathan Cleverly & Tony Bellew, who earlier in the year provide more excitement in a press conference than a lot of fighters have delivered in their whole careers.
There was no real introduction needed as the bad blood shown by these two has already done Frank Warren’s job as a promoter tenfold. Probably the perfect fight to have James DeGale on an undercard coincidentally as his lack of class cost him a lot of support when dueling George Groves last time out.
James DeGale 10(8)-1 came into the Echo Arena to a mixed reception which makes a change from the normal boos that have followed him throughout his so far short career. Piotr Wilczewski came into the ring 29(10)-1 as a relatively unknown quantity from Poland. His win column suggests a different story in relation to the fighters who made up the numbers. A win against Amin Asikainen, who Matthew Macklin knocked out in 2:34 of the first round being the only credible win within the 29 victories was the one that bagged Wilczewski the Vacant Super Middle Weight Title in March.
The fight began with both fighters tying eachother up and feeling one another out. DeGale using the jab to get a taste of what the pole had to offer. The 2nd round showed DeGale sustaining an attack to the body and then delivering a peach of an uppercut which wobbled his man, but the bell saved Wilczewski from anything further. As the fight rolled on, DeGale carried on to land the more noticeable shots, using the ring to counter each time Wilczewski tried to launch another attack.
The 4th and 5th rounds made DeGale sit up and take notice when caught with a few hard shots, 1 shot in fact that had him hanging on for the bell.
As the rounds tallied up, it was hard to hand out the points, but it seemed that DeGale had the better stamina and workrate so he just about edged the remainder of the middle rounds. The final 3 rounds saw Wilczewski gain a bit of momentum, again catching DeGale on the ropes but it was the 12th round that James dug deep to secure the European Championship by majority decision.
This set up the big one that everybody had been waiting for. The talking finally over, it was time for the record to be set straight.
Tony Bellew 16(10)-0 entering the arena to a frantic recption, Nathan Cleverly 22(11)-0 to a somewhat more hostile reception. The first round began with Cleverly practically running at Bellew but the Liverpudlian straight away using his jab to push Nathan back as well as trying his luck with use of the head which was spotted instantly by an angry Richie Davies who gave Bellew a piece of his mind.
Cleverly was happy to unload some heavy shots in the opening round which failed to take Bellew out of his stride, but in the 2nd round Bellew disclosed his own power by appearing to wobble the Welshman who then stuck out his tongue and raised his arms to show he was not hurt.
Cleverly could not settle in the 3rd with Bellew sticking to his boxing skills and resulted in a bloodied nose.
Round number 5 was more of the same with the exception of a low blow to Bellew and a temperory halt was called in order for him to regain his breath. The round carried on with the two undefeated men trading shots but Cleverly seemed to be landed the more telling punches.
The following rounds saw the tempo pick up and it was Cleverly who seemed to be moving up a gear and pressing Bellew back with his relentless attacks although Bellew’s response to the shots where very credible indeed.
The final few rounds had both men showing their tiredness and a crashing shot in the 10th by Bellew only spurred Cleverly on and the 11th showed this with Bellew having to take several clean uppercuts from the champion.
Both fighters went for it in the final round but again it was Cleverly who closed the show out with the final 10 points with his superior fitness.
A very close fight which had everything did not fail to disappoint and Cleverly’s arm was raised by majority decision.
So to conclude, a decent night of action in Liverpool and a lot of questions and answers provided for the fans to discuss. Bellew answered the critics that had him labeled as a 1 dimensional slugger by using his jab and footwork to confuse the 24 year old Cleverly. James DeGale on the other hand will need to have a long hard think about future adjustments he will need to make to his game as Wilczewski, who is not the most gifted fighter was able to land more often than he should have.