by Cliff Rold
For the second time this year, 35-year old International Boxing Federation (IBF) Super Middleweight titlist Carl Froch (30-2, 22 KO) of Nottingham, England, played the part of human wrecking ball, laying waste to 32-year old Yusaf Mack (31-5-2, 17 KO) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in front of a packed, rabid house at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Saturday night. Froch makes the first defense of the title he wrested from then-undefeated Lucian Bute in five devastating rounds in May of this year. Mack came into the contest rated #5 by the IBF at Light Heavyweight and suffers the fifth knockout loss of his career.
Froch came into the bout just below the division limit at 167 ½, Mack on the limit at 168. The referee was Phil Edwards.
Seemingly still in the same gear he ended his blitzing of Bute with, Froch exploded out of the gate in the first round. A knockdown, perhaps aided with a tangle of feet, resulted off of a wide right hand and a looping left as Mack fell. Mack rose and was forced to cover as Froch came on. A right near the ropes brought a roar from the crowd, as did a wicked body shot before the bell. A steady second round closed with another crowd pleaser, Mack rocked by a right near the ropes.
He survived to hear the bell. He wouldn’t be so lucky in the third. Appearing wobbled with every stiff power shot, Mack tried to jab and move to keep clear of Froch’s hard lefts and overhand rights. In the final minute, a crushing right to the body bent Mack in half, his head left exposed for a left hook and right hand to finish the assault. Mack dropped to all fours, briefly stiffened his torso upwards, and then collapsed forward in pain. Referee Phil Edwards tolled the count of ten at 2:30 of round three.
The bout represented the first step off the gas for the fearlessly matched Froch in many years after a monster eight fight stretch that saw him face Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Andre Ward, and Lucian Bute in succession. Froch went 6-2 over the run, winning and losing the WBC title twice, and sounds ready to get back to his normal pace.
Froch said he felt he’d executed “just about” perfectly on his game plan while interviewed after the fight, further saying he feels “unbeatable” when on fire the way he was in front of vocal home crowds against Bute and Mack this year. Froch is contracted to face Bute in Canada next year and stated, along with his promoter, he’d also like to have rematches with the two men to defeat him, Kessler and the lineal World Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward.
Intimations of a Ward rematch in Nottingham are unlikely to bear fruit but should Froch continue to win in the fashion he’s shown since that defeat, a rematch could emerge as a tantalizing lure on any continent.
In the chief support bout, 29-year old Light Heavyweight Tony Bellew (19-1, 12 KO), 174 ¾, of Liverpool, England, scored two early knockdowns and worked through a ghastly cut to score a lopsided unanimous decision over 33-year old Roberto Bolonti (30-1, 19 KO), 173, of Mar Del Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was Bolonti’s first defeat since 2006. Bellew wins his third straight since dropping a competitive decision to World Boxing Organization (WBO) Light Heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly in 2011.
The referee was Victor Loughlin.
Bellew got off to an excellent start, the aggressor from the opening bell. Catching Bolonti high on the head with a right hand near the ropes, Bellew scored a knockdown to seize the early scoring edge. Attempting an early finish, Bellew let loose the heavy artillery but Bolonti covered well and made the bell. Bolonti continued to guard well in the second as Bellew looked to land clean.
Bolonti hit the deck again early in the third, going too wide with an overhand right and getting tagged with a short left hook for his trouble. Bolonti again beat the count and fired his left hook sparingly to keep Bellew honest. Bolonti was blasted to the corner with a right, and then took another. Bolonti gained a measure of revenge with a nasty left hook, opening a cut over the right eye of Bellew.
Bellew came out, and kept on, throwing the right with urgency as the crimson streamed from a nasty gash. Bolonti played defense, picking shots and perhaps looking to extend the bout and work towards a cut stoppage. Wisely, Bellew backed off and boxed more in the fifth, his corner able to stem the bleeding and the fighter able to stem the attack of Bolonti enough not to reopen the wound.
The cut was busted again in the sixth and Bellew was visited in the corner after the round despite his best efforts to control the action. Caution remained in the seventh, Bellew still winning rounds but opting for lefts to the body with his right hand glued high to the head.
Despite an injured foe, Bolonti refused to increase his attack and coasted with an abundance of respect for Bellew in rounds eight and nine. Bellew seemed to have him stunned for a moment late in the latter but Bolonti remained just elusive enough to keep himself in the scrap.
A right uppercut in the final minute of the tenth sent a shiver through the legs of Bolonti but, again, his covering defense and shifting feet staved off an end. It would be the last moment of substantial drama for the night, Bellew coasting and Bolonti letting him in the last two rounds.
Bellew was announced the winner at academic scores of 119-107 and two shutout marks of 120-106. Bellew claimed the cut didn’t affect him much and expressed anticipation for a future with a likely title shot in it. Bellew entered the contest rated #14 by the WBO but, contesting on Saturday for a World Boxing Council (WBC) ‘silver’ belt, his fortunes may reside in the latter body. Bellew closes in on a shot at WBC and lineal World Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson. Dawson is currently slated for a rematch with the first man to defeat him, Jean Pascal, in the first quarter of 2013.
Bolonti was rated #5 by the World Boxing Council, and #10 by the World Boxing Association and IBF, prior to his defeat.
The card was televised in the U.S. via pay-per-view, presented by Integrated Sports.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]