By Terence Dooley
Paul ‘Smigga’ Smith made the first successful defence of his British super-middleweight title by overcoming Tony Dodson after a bruising, bloody encounter. Smith (167½lb) fought a muscular, if messy, fight to deny his cross-city rival and break Dodson’s heart. Enzo Maccarinelli joined Boxingscene for the fight; Enzo reminisced about his final amateur fight, a points loss to Tony Dodson, “I was robbed!” laughed Enzo. “We were crazy young kids having a tear-up back then.” Fitting really as the main event itself had its fair share of crazy moments.
Tony (167¼lb) entered the ECHO Arena ring a sizeable underdog; however, repeated head clashes during the early going caused a gash to Smith’s left eyebrow, in round one, forehead, in round two, and scalp, leaving Smith’s face a bloody mask and presenting Tony, nicknamed ‘The Warrior’, with a golden opportunity to snatch the title from his bitter rival.
Smith was up for the battle and although there was not a huge amount of technique on show the champion’s body punching and bowling right hands proved enough to earn him a points win over Dodson, who faded during the final third of the fight only to find a second wind when seeking a knockout in the final stanza.
Still, by the fourth session Smith’s cuts seemed to be the key factor in the fight. Paul, 27, landed some solid right hands in this stanza yet the blood flowing from his eyebrow dripped as steadily as sand through an egg timer, and Paul was running out of time with each passing moment.
Referee Phil Edwards kept a close eye on Smith and allowed expert cutsman Mick Williamson to work his magic on the gashes, removing any risk of the fight ending by a TKO. The veteran cutsman, who kept Ricky Hatton in the Jon Thaxton fight back in 2000, later revealed that Smith’s scalp wound was the worst wound he had tended to.
Indeed, Smith’s forehead and scalp injuries bled freely at first only to then ooze the thick, dark red blood that seeps out when the claret starts congealing, the eyebrow was brought under control and Smith, who had vowed to punish Dodson, forced home enough right hands to build up a points lead during the fight’s middle passage.
The 29-year-old Dodson had his periods of ascendancy, particularly when banging Smith with shots on the inside during round seven, but any hope he had of winning the contest were erased by a point deduction for persistent holding in round ten. Edwards had warned Dodson for holding throughout the course of the bout yet when the deduction came it was unfair on Tony, as both men were guilty of falling in when up close.
Smith, as he did versus Tony Quigley last October, carried the eleventh to open up his lead only to cede the twelfth round as Dodson, who was urged to go for that much-needed knockout, tried to find the finish, he didn’t, he couldn’t and at the final bell Smith raised his hands aloft, sure that he had done enough to retain his title.
Scores of 117-112 (Victor Loughlin), 116-111, from Howard Foster, and 115-112, courtesy of Marcus McDonnell, were just; Boxingscene had it 115-112 for Smith, now 29-1 (15 early). You have to hand it to Dodson, who falls to 24-6-1 (12); Tony was out for nearly year after that heartbreaking stoppage loss to Quigley in last March and he once again went above and beyond in this contest.
Smith, however, will need to buck up in future fights, Brian Magee could be next on the horizon and Smith will have show more than he has shown in his past two fights if he is to dethrone the Northern Ireland-born fighter. Magee’s style lends itself easily to messy fights; Smith’s forward charges are putting his face in serious danger during recent contests; we could be in for another bloody and bruising night should the pair meet.
“The performance wasn't too bad considering the big cut I got in the first round. I'm happier with that performance than the Quigley one because, mentally, I stayed switched on. No one is taking this [British] title off me. If I give it up it will be for a world title fight,” declared Smith, who also revealed that he had suffered an eye injury in sparring when preparing for this battle.
Kell Brook has been in sensational, sizzling form during the course of the past eighteen months yet he lacked sharpness despite running out a sixth-round TKO winner over Krzysztof Bienias. Brook, who picked up the WBO Inter-Continental title with this win, was all jabs and right hands during the opener, perhaps the Sheffield starlet was trying to get used to fighting an orthodox fighter after taking on southpaw opposition in his last four fights.
Whatever, Brook (146½lb) switched things in the second round, throwing the right hand to body and head and landing a left hook-cum-uppercut to the head of Bienias (147lb), who showed little attacking prowess.
Indeed, Brook’s dominance could have been forced home earlier had he got his left hand going but, frustratingly, ‘Ezekiel’ seemed to on snooze mode and was happy to bang the Pole about with right hands whilst never truly stepping in with a balance straightening, and potentially fight ending, left hook, or two. Kevin Mitchell, who was at ringside, implored Kell to throw his left hook off the jab but Brook, 23, was happy to ping his 30-year-old foe back with the right cross.
Ironically, Bienias started to land his own shots during rounds five and six, scoring with right hands to the chin of Kell, who was either treating his opponent with complete disdain or trying to get Krzysztof to open up so he could power home a fight ending counter.
A left hook early in the sixth put the veteran on the back foot only for him to land a double jab and right hand to the chin of Kell, who responded by banging back with a right uppercut that put paid to this mini-revival. Kell’s follow up shots moved Bienias into range for a fight-ending left uppercut. Referee Victor Loughlin stepping in to end the contest at 2:47 of the round.
Sure, the Polish fighter, now 39-4 (16), could have continued and probably would have survived to see the bell but he was going nowhere and, the odd right hand aside, had little to offer by way or return fire, the stoppage spared him from further punishment.
It was an odd performance from Brook, who is now looking to world honours and will fight again on the undercard of Kevin Mitchell’s title challenge to Michael Katsidis. The mercurial boxer never once looked like he was going to slip into top gear, proof, perhaps, that Kell can move through contention operating in second gear; conversely, you have to wonder if he will be able to up his game when the huge fights come. That long-proposed British title fight against Michael Jennings would go a long way to answering this question.
“I’ve been out for eight months, so it’s good to get a few rounds in at top level,” admitted the 21-0 (14 KOs), Ingle-trained boxer. Kell is now the mandatory challenger for Manny Pacquiao’s WBO title. It is likely that Manny will vacate in order to pursue a superfight fight with Floyd Mayweather. Kell, therefore, may keep an eye out on Joshua Clottey, who challenges Manny later tonight, in anticipation of boxing the Ghanaian for the vacant belt.
Tony ‘Bomber’ Bellew won the first of what he feels will be many professional titles by wiping out Ghana’s Atoli Moore in a single round to win the vacant Commonwealth light-heavyweight title.
Atoli (172¼lb) came out behind his jab and landed the odd left, yet he was bone-dry and his wide-open guard was an invitation for Bellew’s (174¾lb) solid right hands. One such right hand put Moore on wobbly legs and his technique, open at the best of times, was now completely scattered, a series of right hands from Bellew prompted referee Marcus McDonnell to jump in at 2:27 of the opening session. Bellew rises to 13-0 (9 smashings); Atoli, 27, now knows the pain of defeat, he takes a 10-1 (6 KOs) slate back to his hometown of Kumasi.
Bellew is his own worse critic; he bemoaned the absence of his left hand when chatting after the fight. The loquacious Liverpudlian has practically been a guest columnist for Boxingscene this week and he used to the post-fight presser to call out everyone. The 27-year-old craves bigger and better titles but British and European title champion, and promotional stablemate, Nathan Cleverly is blocking Tony’s path, something that Bellew intends to remedy as soon as he gets an opportunity.
“I’m over the moon, ecstatic,” declared Bellew. “I can’t thank Frank [Warren] enough, he’s done everything he said he would do for me, credit goes to [trainer] Arnie [Farnell] and [Frank Warren Promotion’s matchmaker] Dean [Powell] as well.
“I started slow and got caught with a couple of silly shots, one on the shoulder [which knocked Bellew off-balance a la Mayweather versus Hatton] and one on the chest. I thought I’d have twelve rounds so wanted to get into the fight but I heard Arnie and Dean calling for the right hand so I hit him with it. I could see that his equilibrium was gone. I knew it was a matter of time.”
Bellew believes that potential opponents are running scared, leaving him with no choice but to take on the likes of Moore, who was a level or two below Bellew. “If you weigh in 175lb the day then you are getting carried out or rescued by the ref. This kid looked me in the eye yesterday so I though he was a bit game and he didn’t shock me by coming forward, he was clumsy but heavy handed and as soon as he made a mistake I was on him,” stated Tony when discussing Atoli.
“I was looking for uppercuts and left hooks as he was swinging big punches and I know that a short, little shot will always land quicker than those big swings. I got the right hand off and could see straight away that it had left him unsteady on his feet. That last shot definitely broke his nose, I could feel the impact travel down my arm and he was looking up at the lights when the ref stepped in.
“Danny McIntosh recently had a great win over Tony Oakey but I’m led to believe that Danny doesn’t want to come anywhere near me. None of these guys will fight me. I’m the Commonwealth champion now and hope that this belt draws them out of the woodwork. [Prizefighter winner] Orville McKenzie is supposed to be the most avoided man in the division but his promoter [Frank Maloney] turned down a chance for him to fight me. You wouldn’t believe the problems that Dean has trying to match me.
“This guy was 10-0 and has just learned how to beat beaten and how to get knocked out. I would flatten McIntosh and anyone at this weight limit gets a job done on them. Danny doesn’t want to fight me but money talks so we might get him into the ring.”
Promoter Frank Warren is guiding Tony and Cleverly towards the ultimate domestic 175lb showdown. The veteran promoter believes that Tony and Nathan will both continue to rack up the wins, and titles, needed to make this an epic encounter; on the other hand, many would argue that there is no time like the present, especially given the fact that these long-bubbling British superfights tend to spoil whilst on the backburner.
“Tony doesn’t have to talk about opponents, if they want him they know where to come. Obviously, the one we are building up towards is Nathan Cleverly in a couple of years. Tony is here, he is not running away from anybody,” vowed Warren.
‘Big Daddy B’, Bellew is a huge Riddick Bowe fan, is happy to have names thrown at him, he claims that he will fight anyone, anywhere and at anytime. “You guys build the names up and I’ll continue smashing them,” blasted Bellew.
“One guy has just been sparring Nathan and came to spar me and said he’d never been hit that hard in his life. If I get Nathan in the ring, he’ll be annihilated, he’ll never be the same again. When other guys are sleeping I’m training. When they’re training, I train even harder. I live boxing, no one is beating me – I’m smashing everyone!”
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