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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chilemba-Bellew II: Same Fight, Different Result

Tony Bellew captured a unanimous decision against Isaac Chilemba today at the O2 Arena in London, England. The rematch took on almost the exact same form as their first fight; only the judges' opinion of the bout was different.

Chilemba wore the same red and gold trunks with Wildcat written on the belt-line and entered to the same song, DJ Khaled's "All I Do is Win." Bellew wore his customary blue trunks with the word Bomber on the front. He sauntered to the ring to the familiar anthem of his favorite soccer team, Everton.

The early portion of the fight mirrored their first contest as well. Bellew plodded forward, winging away, and failing to touch Chilemba. Chilemba's slithery defense frustrated Bellew. Isaac's body movement was so proficient he often looked like a contortionist rather than a boxer while avoiding oncoming punches. His head movement was expert and even when Bellew was able to find Chilemba, Isaac usually had a glove waiting to block.

Chilemba's problem was once again a low punch output. He threw more early in the rematch, but he still allowed Bellew to bully him. Bellew constantly came forward during the first six rounds of the fight, and though he rarely landed, his aggression appeared to be enough to convince the judges. The man from England controlled the center of the ring and jabbed more in the early rounds than he did in the first fight. Chilemba continuously landed subtle counters, but there is no denying that Bellew's punches were harder than Isaac's.

Bellew's left eye began to swell in the third round due to a punch and he blinked in distress throughout the rest of the bout. Both men wrestled and held more than in their match eight weeks ago and both strayed from the rules on occasion. Bellew landed a left uppercut to the groin and followed it with an overhand right in the third round, probably his best combination of the fight. Chilemba spent most of the fifth smacking the back of Bellew's head.

As in the first fight, Chilemba dominated the seventh round. He landed lead rights, left hooks, and jabs. He finally stayed in the pocket. The seventh was the first round Chilemba didn't allow himself to be backed up to the ropes.

By the tenth round, Bellew was tired. His mouth was open during the eleventh and he missed the target wildly. Meanwhile, Chilemba was fresh and slyly moved in front of Bellew after touching him. Isaac repeatedly landed a weird windmill-like combination that featured an overhand jab- if such a thing exists- followed immediately by an overhand right. The left was meant to distract the opponent long enough to leave him open for the right. In those final three rounds, Bellew still often came forward, but Chilemba usually had a jab waiting for him.

Bellew couldn't hit Chilemba early and Chilemba couldn't miss Bellew late. Yet, the judges all saw the bout for Bellew. One judge scored the bout for the local man 117-112 and the other two had it 116-112.

The seventh, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth were all clearly for Chilemba, but the other eight rounds were close. With a dearth of clean effective punching, it really came down to whether an observer favored Bellew's ring generalship or Chilemba's defense.

Scott Christ of Bad Left Hook scored the fight for Chilemba 116-112 and Adam Abramowitz of Saturday Night Boxing had Chilemba up by a couple of points. Jim Watt of Sky Sports had Bellew winning 116-113 and Dan Rafael of ESPN thought the judges' scores accurately reflected the fight. The Jewish Boxing Blog saw Chilemba winning 115-113, seven rounds to five.

The Sky Sports punch stats said that Bellew had landed about twice as many as had Chilemba, which leads one to believe that a couple of Everton soccer players were manning the punch count keys.

Chilemba's record falls to 20-2-2 with 9 KOs; Bellew's is now 20-1-1 with 12 KOs. After the result was announced, Isaac and Tony hugged. Discussing how hard he had trained for the rematch, Bellew told the audience, "I've hated boxing these last eight weeks." He is line to face the winner of Chad Dawson-Adonis Stevenson.

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