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Cleverly-Bellew: Pyrotechnics And Showmanship: England Does Boxing Right

By Sean Crose

Let’s face it, all eyes are on Macau this weekend. Still, the city of Liverpool in Great Britain had some good boxing to offer on Saturday. Those of us across the pond who were able to able to watch the card unfold at the Echo Arena got a good show.

Notable bouts included super bantamweight Scott Quigg’s defense of his WBA Regular title (whatever that is) against Hidenori Otake. Quigg, whose name can be heard mentioned in the same breath as those of Guillermo Rigondeax, Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz, took the twelve round decision on all three judge’s cards. Still undefeated, the kid has an interesting future ahead of him.

British super middleweight James DeGale then went on to mop the floor with notable Mexican fighter Marco Antonio Periban in a match that didn’t go past the third round. With just a single loss to George Groves under his belt, DeGale made it clear afterward that he felt the iconic Carl Froch wanted nothing to do with him.

The future will tell if the man was right.

As for Groves, he stayed on the comeback trail by beating a game, perhaps even frustrating, Denis Douglin by stoppage in round seven. Groves didn’t look great for portions of the fight, and it may be time to wonder just how good the Londoner truly is. Sure, he gave Froch a real run, but was it just a stylistic fluke? Or will Groves go on to prove the naysayers wrong?

Moving up the weight scale, big heavyweight British gold medalist Anthony Joshua looked, well, pretty awesome as he destroyed Michael Sprott. While it’s true Sprott looked like he had stepped into the ring one too many times after having eaten one too many donuts, there’s no doubt that Joshua is a heavyweight to keep an eye on.

Could it be the big man division is actually getting interesting?

The main even was a good old throwdown between two dudes who clearly didn’t like each other. Welshman Nathan Cleverly was quite the big deal until a certain light heavyweight named Sergey Kovalev (ever heard of him?) came along and went through the rising star like a knife through butter.

Tony Bellew had faced Cleverly before. Cleverly may have beaten the man, but he didn’t earn the Liverpool native’s respect. For, in the leadup to Saturday’s bout, Bellew made a very public implication that Cleverly had a drinking problem. British boxing authorities were not happy.

And neither, undoubtedly, was Cleverly. Still, it was Bellew who tried to avoid tapping gloves before the fight started on Saturday. The fight was an interesting if not a thrilling affair at first. The mouthy Bellew (who really rankled Adonis Stevenson a year ago before being flattened) threw chopping, aggressive punches while Cleverly used his more fluid skill set.

Things got good in the ninth when Bellew started pounding, and I mean pounding, away at the Welshman. Yet Cleverly stayed on his feet. By the tenth round, however, it was all a matter of survival. Could Cleverly withstand Bellew’s onslaught and walk away with the decision? The fight was turning into a nail biter.

Cleverly indeed stayed on his feet, but the man was completely gassed the last two rounds. After twelve grueling chapters, the affair ended with Bellew’s hand raised in well-deserved victory. If only the guy didn’t act like such a jerk.

Here’s the thing – the Brits know how to throw a fight card. It’s all pyrotechnics and showmanship leading up to the actual fisticuffs. The arenas are packed and the fans are pumped. In short, a night at the fights in England is FUN – even when the attractions aren’t the best in their respective divisions.

American matchmakers should take note.

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