Photos: Bellew-Chilemba Set; Crolla-Mathews, Stalker
Tony Bellew will face Isaac ‘Golden Boy’ Chilemba in an official final eliminator for the WBC light heavyweight World title in Betfair’s ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on March 30, live on Sky Sports – with the winner setting up a potential clash with ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson.
The fight is the last step to a second World title shot for ‘Bomber’ Bellew, who moved through the gears in 2012 with a devastating KO over Danny McIntosh in a British title defence in April, a ninth round stoppage win over Edison Miranda in September and dug deep through a terrible cut against Roberto Bolonti in November to reach this pivotal point in his career.
Malawian Chilemba is ranked at number five in the WBC and also defeated Miranda in 2012, one of the 25 year olds 20 wins in his 22 fight career – as tough a test as Bellew could face as he stands on the cusp of World title glory.
“It’s a massive night and a really tough opponent for the right to fight for the big one,” said Bellew. “Isaac is a top class opponent; he beat Miranda at late notice and has only one defeat on his record from five years ago, so he’ll be well up for this and he’s in good form. But I’m on the edge of a World title fight and I’ve worked too hard to give it away now. It’s a great card on show for the Liverpool fans and I am sure they will turn out in force on March 30.”
Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport are delighted that Team GB’s Olympic boxing captain Tom Stalker has signed professional terms with them.
Stalker’s debut will be in February and will be announced later this week, with the Liverpool man’s hometown bow to come at the Echo Arena on March 30 in Betfair’s ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’. Promoter Hearn has expressed his desire to have Stalker fight for his first title next year.
The 28 year old joins the pro ranks in the light welterweight division after a glittering amateur career, which included winning gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games before leading Team GB in London last summer.
“I feel I am going to be exciting to watch as a professional boxer,” said Stalker. “I felt it was time for me to turn professional now and see how far I can go. I have done everything I could possibly do as an amateur, bar winning an Olympic medal.
“Even though I didn’t medal myself, as a team I have captained the most successful amateur boxing team we have ever had and that was a big thing for me. It wasn’t just a three-week tournament it had been four years of trying to qualify to win those medals so to see all the lads and women do so well and win medals was amazing and I am very honoured to have captained that team.
“Winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal was obviously a highlight for me in the amateurs but I would say qualifying for the Olympics was a big moment after all the hard work it took to qualify. Since the Olympics I haven’t had a goal and I have been a bit depressed, especially seeing the other lads doing all sorts of stuff but now I have that hunger back and to get in that ring and fight is going to be amazing. The one for me is going to be March, boxing a homecoming in Liverpool. It is going to be amazing for me to be boxing in front of all my friends and family in Liverpool and that is when I will really feel like a professional.
“I think a lot of Eddie Hearn and I think a lot of the fighters he has; Carl Froch, Kell Brook and of course the Liverpool fighters he has got, Tony Bellew, Rocky Fielding and Callum Smith. I thought it made sense to go with Matchroom because Eddie is doing really well for his fighters at the moment.
“Kal Yafai, Scotty Cardle and Martin J. Ward were all really good friends in the GB squad and I see them doing really well now with Matchroom. When I was watching Scott Cardle’s last fight I was picturing myself against the opponent he was fighting because he is about the same weight as me.”
A rematch of the domestic fight of the year for 2012 between Derry Mathews and Anthony Crolla for the Commonwealth lightweight title provides the chief support to Bellew’s crunch clash with Chilemba, with Liverpool’s Rocky Fielding defending his English super middleweight title against Wayne Reed, unbeaten lightweight Scotty Cardle in action in his ninth pro contest, Callum Smith boxes in his hometown for the first time and GB London Olympic captain Tom Stalker will appear after he announced he will turn pro will Matchroom Sport.
“I cannot wait for this show – it’s going to be a great night of boxing in Liverpool,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “It’s a crucial night for Tony, with a win securing a well-earned second World title shot and he has great momentum coming into the fight after performing well in 2012. Isaac is a tough customer though and Tony will have to be at his best to get the win.
“I’m thrilled that the rematch between Derry and Anthony is on the bill. The first fight was a real barnstormer and with the Commonwealth title up for grabs and some really big fights in the lightweight division out there this year, the rematch could be even more explosive.
“I will be stepping up Scotty Cardle this year after his successful transition to the pro ranks in 2012 and that starts in Liverpool. Callum Smith boxes at home for the first time in his third pro bout as his pro career starts in earnest – and having Tom Stalker join our stable is a real coup and I expect him to progress very quickly in the pro ranks. All in all, it’s a fantastic line-up and a great chance for the brilliant fight fans in Liverpool to back their number one star on to glory.”
Tickets for Betfair’s ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ are on sale from 2pm today (January 9) priced £30, £40 and £60 from the Echo Arena on 0844 8000 400 and www.echoarena.com – £100 ringside and £150 VIP tickets are available from Matchroom Boxing on 01277 359900 and at www.matchroomboxing.com