The dream continues for Tony Bellew. On paper this was a routine defence with a little bit of needle. In the ring it turned out to be exactly that. To his credit, the American Flores had a bright start to the fight and took the first round. Bellew said in the build-up that if Flores came to fight he would soon be stopped which also came to fruition.
After receiving what looked suspiciously like a low blow, Flores turned to referee Ian John-Lewis who wasn’t interested. Failing to protect himself adequately would ultimately contribute to his downfall. The Bomber was in no mood for niceties and landed spiteful shots to fell Flores. The three-time world title challenger made it to the end of the round but it would prove brief respite. Bellew continued his assault and after a total of four knockdowns, Flores was spared more punishment and sent on his way. The Echo erupted to celebrate one of their own, but what followed only served to spark the crowd into a further frenzy (Check the website for our own views on that later in the week).
The chief support bout saw Olympic Gold medallist Luke Campbell MBE make a statement with a fourth round stoppage of “Dirty” Derry Mathews. Despite being the non-Matchroom fighter, the popular scouser was afforded a huge reception in his hometown whereas Campbell was roundly booed on his way to the ring. This was billed as a crossroads fight for both men so the pressure was on. Although the way Campbell boxed you’d think it was a sparring session. He kept his composure throughout and used his speed and technical ability to buzz in and out of the older man. There have been accusations of a lack of power but that certainly wasn’t the case here.
In a similar, but quicker, fashion to his victory over fellow Hull native Tommy Coyle, “Cool Hand” Luke whipped in vicious looking bodyshots to break down his opponent. While Coyle somehow lasted into the latter stages, Mathews couldn’t survive beyond the fourth. There is no shame in his performance however. He met a truly world class performer with a point to prove. Having unsuccessfully challenged for the WBO lightweight title in his most recent outing (prior to the Campbell clash) it could be time for him to call it a day. Something he has echoed after this latest defeat. Whatever he decides, the MGM boxer deserves nothing but respect from all in the game. In winning, Campbell successfully retained his Commonwealth and WBC Silver title.
Due to the early finish from Hull’s hero, Scott Fitzgerald was given a great opportunity to showcase his skills in front of an ever filling Echo Arena right before Bellew’s maiden WBC world title defence. It didn’t quite go to plan for Preston’s Fitzgerald, who was floored for the first time as a professional. He does deserve massive credit for pulling himself up and back into the contest. He boxed well in patches but Adam Jones was game throughout. An unexpectedly tough test but one that the Commonwealth Games Gold medallist ultimately passed.
British Bantamweight Champion Ryan Burnett successfully defended his title for the first time against former EBU European Champion Ryan Farrag. Like the Campbell-Mathews encounter, the Matchroom man was pitted against a scouser. And like the other bout, Eddie Hearn would be pleased with the performance and result. While he couldn’t force the stoppage, this was a much more aggressive and impressive Burnett. The Belfast boxer mixed up his offence superbly to take a unanimous decision over the ever game Farrag. The bout was competitive throughout but the result was never in doubt. Despite Farrag’s best efforts, Burnett controlled the action from a distance and produced the cleaner work when in close. David Haye described it as a world class performance, and while this may be high praise, Adam Booth’s bantamweight boxer isn’t too far from mixing it with the best in the division.
Due to unforeseen circumstances (a massive traffic jam on the M62) we managed to miss a lot of the early action and arrived midway through the second round of Mairis Briedis versus Simon Valily. We’ve been impressed with Middlesbrough’s Valily having seen him on a couple of occasions, however he was vastly outgunned by his Latvian opponent. After a vicious hook to the body dropped Valily, the writing was on the wall. Briedis didn’t let up in his relentless assault and the action was halted during the third. There was no protest from Valily who seemingly had little left to give.
Rocky Fielding also featured and did what was expected in a routine two round stoppage of Lithuanian Istvan Zeller. Fielding looked comfortable from the start and will have learnt little with his win. Regardless of the level of opposition, it was good to see him looking sharp and will hopefully work his way up to world level.
Sean “Masher” Dodd continued his march towards world level with a hard fought victory over Belgian based Italian Francesco Patera. Having been on the end of a much disputed (but ultimately fair, in my opinion) decision against Scott Cardle in recent times, the Birkenhead boxer rode his luck here in the Echo. Patera started well and controlled the action. As usual, Dodd had his best moments when he closed the gap and pressured his opponent back, although Patera didn’t shy away from the action on the inside. Several observers felt the Italian had done enough to get the nod, but Dodd’s aggression ultimately prevailed as he got the benefit of a split decision to take his record to 12-2 with 1 draw.
After the main event, the action continued as Tom Farrell and Steve Brogan both secured points victories to maintain their respective unbeaten records.