Jack Cullen’s British and Commonwealth super middleweight title fight defense against his former opponent Zak Chelli always looked like being a potential show stealer. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out like that, at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

The two boxed to a draw back in August 2020, with many feeling Chelli deserved the decision.

Cullen’s results may have been mixed since that night, but he has boxed at a much higher level than Chelli since and last September he put in a career best performance to take Mark Heffron apart in three rounds and win the British and Commonwealth titles. 

At 6ft 3in tall, Cullen (22-5-1, 10 KO’s) is a tall super middleweight but regularly chooses to get involved at close quarters. That has changed slightly since he started training under the Jennings brothers and was clearly determined to keep his distance and utilize his physical advantages. Not much happened during the opener as both fighters struggled to establish their rhythm and a Cullen right hand was the cleanest shot of the round. 

The second round followed a similar pattern but Chelli (15-2-1, 7 KO’s) was probably happier with the way the fight was playing out. Although he was boxing on the outside, Chelli’s movement prevented Cullen from establishing his jab and he struggled for any kind of success. Chelli managed to leapt in and crack a right hand off Cullen’s chin. 

Business began to pick up a little in the third and fourth. Realizing that he was struggling to land single jabs to the head, Cullen began to put his punches together. He loosened up, bouncing on his toes and punching in combination. He also landed some short shots to Chelli’s body when the two came close. For Chelli’s part, his successes came when he landed single jabs and single right hands, leaping in from outside and then clinching. 

Cullen - cut around the left eye - had the center of the ring and was the more active fighter but Chelli was making him miss with most of his shots. Chelli had found a semblance of timing, making Cullen miss and loading up on single shots from the outside and then clinching before resetting and starting again.

As the fight entered the second half, Cullen tried changed tack. Instead of chasing and missing Chelli he began to wait for him. Chelli seemed to momentarily stun Cullen with a short right hook and landed a solid double jab as he again landed the more eye-catching shots. 

It was a scrappy, hard fight. Scoring shots were difficult to find - let alone clean punches - with both fighters struggling to impose themselves.

The two began to find themselves grappling more regularly. Cullen just unable to find room to work and Chelli eager to get back outside to time his jabs and overhand rights. The ninth was a typical round, just when it looked like Cullen looked like he might have found a way to grind out a round, Chelli scored with two clean left hands, again leaping in from the outside. 

A tiring Chelli rationed his attacks a little more as the rounds passed. Cullen continued to press but was struggling with judging the range as badly in the final round as he had in the first. Chelli jabbed, grabbed, moved and mauled and stayed safe. It was clever work against a taller, desperate fighter and with the final bell in sight, he did everything he could to keep his nose ahead.

After twelve rounds, the judges returned a unanimous verdict in Chelli’s favor. Howard Foster scored it, 116-113 Victor Loughlin had it 116-112 whilst John Latham returned a card of 115-114,

Chelli deserved the win and is the new British and Commonwealth super middleweight champion.