By Alexey Sukachev
Echo Arena, Liverpool, Merseyside - Tony Bellew (21-2-1, 13KOs) made his splash at cruiserweight with a twelfth round knockout of Valery Brudov (41-5, 28KOs) to win the vacant WBO International title. It was Bellew's first bout at the cruiserweight limit, after moving up from 175-pounds following November's knockout loss to WBC champion Adonis Stevenson.
WBC #7 Bellew, 31-years-old, was faster and tighter than the aging Brudov, 37, a four-time former cruiserweight world-title challenger. After a slow first round, the Liverpudlian showed his assets with a cracking right hand to sent Brudov down late into the second. However, the Russian (ex-WBA interim beltholder) easily beat the count.
The Russian slugger tried to impose his will on Bellew and had some limited success during the first half, but the British boxer was wise enough to circle around the plodding opponent, using his left jab to set the distance and a right hand on occasion. One of the latter hit Brudov with thunder late into the sixth, sending him down for the second time around to create a bigger gap.
Brudov's best moment came in the seventh, when he caught Bellew flush with a right hand bomb. The Brit survived the deadly storm - first with clinches and then after Bellew got time to recover from an alleged low blow by Brudov. Bellew clearly looked dazed. The hometown hero, however, regained his composure in championship rounds.
Sensing he has nothing to lose but his pride, and with time clearly ticking, Brudov went in for kill in the twelfth round and was forced to pay a dear price. With just 36 seconds remaining in the round, both Bellew and Brudov threw their left hooks but Tony was the first to land one. Brudov went down hard and was counted out by referee Phil