• Nathan Cleverly v Tony Bellew

Cleverly digs in for win over Bellew

ESPN staff
October 15, 2011
Nathan Cleverly lands a shot on Tony Bellew during their light-heavyweight fight © PA Photos

Nathan Cleverly retained his WBO light-heavyweight title with a battling points win over Tony Bellew.

There was real animosity ahead of the fight and low blows were thrown by both fighters, but a touch of gloves at the start of the final round suggested respect had been earned following a high-octane war.

Both fighters landed and absorbed big shots and the decision could have gone either way, but it was Cleverly who was awarded a majority win - while Bellew emerged with his reputation enhanced.

Referee Richie Davies made it clear ahead of the fight that he would not stand for any funny business and he read the riot act to Bellew inside the opening minute after he slipped his head into an attack.

Bellew shrugged off the dressing down and landed some clubbing rights in the second, but Cleverly took them well and suggested he was not hurt with a bit of showboating.

The contest was billed as a battle of Cleverly's style against Bellew's power, but both showed all-round craft.

The Echo Arena crowd were on their feet at the end of the seventh as Bellew dug in to land some big shots while blowing exceptionally hard.

The pace slackened in the ninth as both paused for breath, but the 10th belonged to Bellew who trapped Cleverly on the ropes and landed some vicious shots. The champion looked wobbly for a second, but to his credit soaked up what were vicious punches.

Cleverly appeared behind heading into the final two rounds and was told so by his corner. He came out like a fighter determined to retain his title and he landed the crisper shots in the final six minutes and it paid off as he was awarded the verdict.

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