Reece Bellotti could not break Liam Dillon’s will but was able to snatch his “0.”
A persistent attack by the 33-year-old gatekeeper was enough to conquer his younger, unbeaten foe over twelve rounds. Scores were 117-111, 117-112 and 116-112 for Bellotti in their British junior lightweight title fight Saturday on DAZN from Indigo at The O2 in London.
Dillon was the busier fighter in the opening round but his defensive lapses—one in particular—allowed Bellotti to enjoy early success. An exchange along the ropes saw Dillon land with right hands. Bellotti stood in the pocket and connected with an uppercut and then a left hook on Dillon’s wide open chin.
Action remained at a brisk pace in the second. Dillon initiated the attack early, which prompted Bellotti to offer more in-and-out movement than was the case in the preceding round. Dillon landed a flurry upstairs and then a straight right and Bellotti was caught moving to his opponent’s left.
Bellotti landed a right hand to the body at the start of the third round. A left hook by Bellotti allowed the Watford-based puncher to keep the fight at his desired distance. Dillon covered up before he let his hands go later in the round. Bellotti was prepared for the attack and rode out a flurry to connect with a left hook upstairs. Dillon stalked but was caught by consecutive right hands.
Momentum remained with Bellotti, who opened the fourth round with a right uppercut. Dillon was caught with the same punch roughly 30 seconds later before he attempted to initiate a two-way exchange. Bellotti fended off an onrushing Dillon with two right hands to the body.
Dillon came out firing in the fifth. Bellotti was briefly forced on the defensive before he was able to turn the tide late in the round, first with a right hand to the chin and then with two left hooks to the body.
Fatigue began to set in for Dillon, who struggled to make weight headed into Friday’s weigh-in and slowed by the sixth. The relentless pressure and commitment to the body by Bellotti contributed to the reduced punch output by Dillon, who showed resilience as he was able to rally late with a right hand late in the frame.
Two-way exchanges were offered in rounds seven and eight. Dillon fought behind a high guard and charged forward to get within range for his right hand and left hook upstairs. Bellotti went to the body midway through the eighth in his best effort to slow down his relentless foe. Dillon pressed with his right hand but was caught with an uppercut. Bellotti continued to punch through Dillon’s flurries and often landed the more telling blows.
Bellotti seized control for much of round nine. Dillon’s iron chin was put to the test as he was briefly rocked by an uppercut and left hook. The sequence forced Dillon on the back of his heels but he managed to remain upright. Bellotti enjoyed success with combinations and counterpunching whenever Dillon tried to work his way inside.
Dillon was folded in half but again avoided the canvas as Bellotti clipped him with an overhand right and left hook along the ropes late in the tenth. The bravery exuded by the unbeaten prospect was admirable, though he was unable to disrupt Bellotti’s momentum wave.
Bellotti refused to sit on his sizable lead, as he let his hands go to start the twelfth and final round. Dillon did his best to reciprocate and managed mild success at the one-minute mark. Bellotti was momentarily forced on the defensive before he found an opening and ripped left hooks to the body. Dillon snuck in a left hook with 30 seconds to go and fired off power shots upstairs until the final bell.
It was too little, too late but an admirable effort by Dillon (13-1-1, 3KOs), who suffered his first defeat.
Bellotti advanced to 18-5 (14KOs) with his fourth straight victory. It was his second straight over a previously undefeated foe, following an eighth-round stoppage of Aqib Fiaz who was 12-0 at the time of their October 21 clash in Liverpool.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox