A brave effort from Liverpool boxer Tony Bellew was not enough to clinch light-heavyweight world title glory, despite putting on the best performance of his short professional career.
Bellew, known as ‘Bomber’, lost out on a majority decision given to rival and WBO champion Nathan Cleverly, with two judges voting in favour of the Welshman.
In what was a very close contest, one judge could not separate the two, scoring it at 114-114, with another just favouring defending champion Cleverly at 116-113, while the third judge amazingly scored it at 117-112 to Cleverly.
Just hours before the fight, Bellew told JMU Journalism: “I've never felt better going into a fight. I've sparred hundreds of rounds against top-class boxers.”
Indeed it was up to underdog Bellew, who many felt could not go the distance, to back up his claims with his fists, which he did, putting on a tremendous display in front of his 10,000 fans at the city’s Echo Arena.
British and Commonwealth champion Bellew started like a house on fire, making the usually confident and controlling Cleverly look average, but was warned very early on by referee Richie Davies for using his head.
Before the fight, cocky Cleverly offered Bellew free shots to his chin and he kept this promise when he dropped his guard and began to shake his shoulders with his tongue out, in a gesture for Bellew to give him his best shot.
However, after the first six rounds with Bellew arguably ahead on the scorecards, he started to tire, allowing Cleverly back into the fight, which he then started to dominate by landing the more cleaner shots.
With the fight reaching the closing stages, Bellew began to find a new lease of life and in the tenth round landed a straight right that would have floored many a man. But in the end, the class of Cleverly was apparent as he saw out the fight by taking the last two rounds.
At the end of the fight, with a decision yet to be made, the two rivals who publicly announced their dislike of one another having nearly come to blows at press conferences, hugged each other in appreciation in what was a fitting moment for such a memorable fight.
A heartbroken Bellew said afterwards via his Twitter page: “Nathan is a good champion and he is a good guy. I will come back from this set back. Judge Dave Parris is a disgrace and I truly believe I won six rounds.
“That’s not being bitter. That’s being honest. I would like to say thank you to all my fans. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It was a hard fight.”
By Daniel Webster, Sports Reporter
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