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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chilemba and Bellew Fight to an Unsatisfying Draw

Each of the three judges of tonight's bout between Isaac Chilemba and Tony Bellew at Echo Arena in Liverpool, England had a different perspective on the result of the fight. Christophe Fernandez gave the bout to Chilemba by the score of 116-112, Eddie Pappoe saw Bellew winning 116-115, and Fabian Guggenheim scored it even, 114 apiece. Despite the wildly divergent marks, none of these scores were egregious because the fight witnessed a dearth of clean effective punching.

Chilemba, wearing red and gold trunks with Wildcat written on the belt, danced his way to the ring to DJ Khaled's "All I Do is Win," smiling as he rapped along with the song. After sirens incessantly blared for nearly a minute, Bellew, in blue trunks, entered to the theme of his favorite soccer team. He glared at Chilemba throughout his walk to the ring and the subsequent introduction. Chilemba paced as his name was announced to the hostile crowd.

The first half of the bout featured Bellew coming forward, jabbing and following up with looping shots. But Chilemba's defense was wiggly and slimy. Bellew could barely land a glove on the Malawian man due to Isaac's expert head movement. Chilemba, however, didn't throw enough punches to convincingly win those early rounds. That posed a problem for the judges; do they favor Bellew's aggression- ineffective as it was- or score for Chilemba despite his absence of punches?

The fight undeniably turned in the seventh round. At the urging of his trainer, Buddy McGirt, Isaac began coming forward. Bellew quickly began backing up. Chilemba countered effectively, particularly with straight rights. The Brit threw more in the eighth, but Chilemba's accurate shots carried the round.

Chilemba threw staggered combinations, landing a straight counter right, pausing, smashing a left hook on Bellew's face, contorting his body, hitting him with another right, and then moving out of the way. Chilemba won the ninth with quick and efficient right counters, though Bellew had his moments.

When Bellew was hit, he had the presence of mind to hit back. He came forward in the tenth and focused more on the body to carry the round, his first of the second half of the fight. Isaac turned the bout back in his favor in the eleventh. He fought on the front foot and controlled the center of the ring in that penultimate round. The final round was uneventful and the crowd treated it with quiet indifference.

The Jewish Boxing Blog scored the contest seven rounds to five in Chilemba's favor. Both fighters were crushed when the split draw was revealed. Tony Bellew believed he won nine rounds and asserted that McGirt told him he thought Bellew had won. About the decision, Chilemba said, "I'm not happy at all." He thought he lost two or three rounds at most.

The winner of this bout was supposed to get a shot at Chad Dawson, the light heavyweight champion of the world, but that has now been put on hold. Chilemba's record is 20-1-2 with 9 KOs and Bellew's is 19-1-1 with 12 KOs. There is early talk of a rematch.

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