By Terence Dooley
Liverpool--Callum "Mundo" Smith (11st 13lbs) knew he would have to repeal the challenge of France’s Christopher Rebrasse (11st 13lbs 12oz) in order to stay on course for a domestic dust up with Rocky Fielding and he had to stay busy throughout their scheduled 12-threes for the Vacant WBC Silver 168lb belt.
Smith, 25, boxed well against the former EBU titlist, garnering favourable comparisons with George Groves, who took the European title from Rebrasse via a decision win in September. Despite the odd spot of success for the 29-year-old Frenchman, Smith remained cool to to melt “L'iceberg” and secure a vital win. A left hook to the body in round 10 floored Rebrasse, but he got up and saw it out to the final bell.
Smith prevailed by scores of 118-110 (twice) and 120-107 to pick up the belt and continue his rise to the top.
“He kept coming,” said the 6’ 3’’ 168lb contender (17-0, 12 KOs). “He's proven at the highest level. I felt comfortable. My left went in the fifth, but I had to keep throwing
“It's great to watch a great young fighter come through,” said Hearn, his promoter. “I believe he can win a world title..”
Rebrasse (23-4-3, 6 KOs) came in with a lot of experience—he had negotiated 199 professional rounds to Smith’s 52—but the Liverpudlian’s greater class proved decisive on the night.
He will meet Fielding later this year in an all-Liverpool clash for the British title once held by his older brother Paul.
In the first of two Super middleweight title fights, Liverpool’s Rocky Fielding (11st 13lbs) met Brian Vera (who was announced as 12st exactly on Thursday, but Fielding has stated that Vera was actually 12st 3lbs when he hit the scales) for the vacant WBC International belt.
Vera gave Julio Cesar Chavez all he could handle in a brace of fights, both decision defeats, and lost to Willie Munroe Junior down at middleweight in January, so Fielding was expected to get the win, but he excelled in the process.
The 27-year-old dominated the bout, with Vera, 32, offering little in return and a long way from the form he showed when handing current WBO middleweight titlist Andy Lee his first defeat back in 2008 (TKO 7). The Texas-based boxer is tough, though, so Fielding had to put him down twice, once in the first followed by one in the second, before stopping him on his feet after referee Ian Jon-Lewis stepped in at 1:39 of the round.
“I enjoyed it,” said Fielding (21-0, 12 early) when dissecting the win over Vera (who is now 23-10, 14 KOs and should consider a return to 160lbs).
“I worked hard, had some good sparring with Martin Murray and it showed,” he added before waiting to see if Callum Smith would beat Christopher Rebrasse in the main event to set-up a British title fight between the two city rivals. "We'll sit down with Eddie and see what the next move."
"He's doing things the right way," stated Hearn. "That was a great performance, he deserves a lot of credit."
Tony Bellew and Croatia’s Ivica Bacurin mutually agreed a weight limit of 14st 8lbs for their non-title fight due to the fact that Bacurin had taken it on short-notice.
Bellew tipped the scales at 14st 7lbs and Bacurin came in slightly heavier, 14st 7lbs 8oz, but the weight limit confused many fans and the Internet almost broke when news of Bellew “Failing to make the weight” filtered through.
Undercard fights and bouts on small hall shows tend to eschew the division limits if a weight is agreed in advance. This is a standard thing in British boxing so the wave of disapprobation and “Fatroom” jibes directed at the former light-heavyweight were unfounded, and probably an aftereffect of Paul Smith missing the agreed limit for his fight with Andre Ward last weekend.
As for the fight itself, Bacurin was on a run of four consecutive wins, albeit against limited opposition, since his last defeat, L12 to Francesco Pianeta up at heavyweight in December, and still has plenty of fire in his belly. However, the 32-year-old was dropped with a short counter left hook in round two, was floored again the fifth and ninth and showed little ambition as the scheduled 10-threes fight ticked on.
By round 10, referee Steve Gray had seen enough, calling time on the one sided contest at 1:12 with Bacurin shipping shots while failing to reply
Bellew’s last fight was a revenge win over Nathan Cleverly in November; he has been filming his scenes for the upcoming Rocky spinoff Creed in recent months before coming back to his main job in front of his hometown crowd.
The 32-year-old made it four wins in a row since moving to 200lbs following his WBC world light-heavyweight title challenge to Adonis Stevenson (L TKO 6 in 2013).
Bellew (24-2-1, 15) was happy to be back in business. He said: "I wasn't loading up," before dedicating the fight to Sky pundit Jim Watt, who lost his daughter on Wednesday. "I'm happy I got the win. I'll rock and roll on. Eddie has delivered on every word he said, he said he'll get me a title shot."
"Tony is ready, he has to fight for a world title fight next," added Hearn.
Bacurin (22-8-1, 12) will head back home to regroup.
St Helens-based three time world middleweight title challenger Martin Murray made his Matchroom debut with a second-round KO over Georgia’s George Beroshvili (19-6-2, 12).
Murray (12st 4lbs 40z) boxed diligently before drilling home a left to the body to end the 23-year-old’s three fight winning streak at 2:29 of the round. Murray (30-2-1, 13 early) lost to Gennady Golovkin by 11th-round stoppage in February, the first time the
32-year-old has failed to hear the final bell—he decided that his future lies at 168lbs in the wake of that defeat.
“I'm at my proper weight now, I'll fight anybody,” stated Murray after the win. "I can see myself in some big fights in the future."
"He'll fight anyone," added Eddie Hearn. "We want him out again soon."
Prizefighter: The Middleweights winner “Dazzlin’” Tom Doran (11st 10lbs 8oz) boxed for the first time since winning the tournament in February; the 27-year-old Wales-based boxer met Warwick’s “Mighty” Mike Byles (11st 5lbs 2oz), 28, over six-threes.
Byles was in decent form, he won a six-round decision over the then-undefeated Billy Bird at the York Hall on the 12th of this month, but he was no match for Doran (15-0, 5) and is now 5-3 (1 early) after referee Mark Lyson waved the contest off at 2:37 of the fifth with Bird under increasing pressure and unable to respond.
Eddie Hearn brought his promising Liverpool-based stars to the Echo Arena for a night of boxing topped by Callum Smith versus Christopher Rebrasse.
One of the first contests was a scheduled four-threes between a British fighter and an opponent who would net you a decent score on Scrabble, especially if you hit a double word square, as Tom Farrell (10st 4lbs) beat Bulgaria’s Radoslav Mitev (10st 3lbs), 23, by knockout in round two—referee Mark Lyson ended matters at 1:55 of the round after a heavy knockdown.
The Liverpudlian (4-0, 1 KO) boxes at the city’s Olympian venue next month on a VIP Promotions show and the 25-year-old showed no sign of losing this one. Mitev (now 6-22-1, 1 KO) boxed 13-days ago, a four-round decision loss to Kofi Yates on the 13th, and “Joko” didn’t look capable of upsetting the local boy.