Cleverly does just enough

Nathan Cleverly did just enough to retain his WBO light-heavyweight title on points at the end of a real war with Tony Bellew.

Liverpudlian Bellew produced the fight of his life in front of his home fans at the Echo Arena, proving he’s more than just a big puncher with a tremendous display of boxing skills that pushed the champion to the limit.

However Cleverly semed to land the cleaner stuff throughout 12 gruelling rounds, meaning he got the nod on a majority verdict.

The Welshman had it 117-112 and 116-113 in his favour from two of the judges at ringside with the third not able to split the pair, marking it 114-114.

They certainly did not disappoint after all the hype in the build-up, which included them nearly coming to blows at a press conference before their scheduled first fight, one which Bellew had to pull out of due to weight issues.

The extra wait proved worth it though and even referee Richie Davies was ready for fireworks from the moment the first bell sounded, warning the challenger within a minute for using his head.

The telling off did not bother Bellew though, and in the second round he loaded up with some big right hands that had his vocal supporters on their feet to cheer him on.

Cleverly responded to the onslaught with a show of defiance, both to his opponent and the crowd, sticking out his tongue and doing a little jig to suggest none of the punches had caused any damage.

Still, he was again on the wrong end of a few in the third, Bellew surprisingly out-jabbing a man who was supposed to have the superior talent of the two.

But by the seventh it appeared Cleverly’s work to the body was beginning to slow down his rival – only for ‘Bomber’ Bellew to get a second wind and pour forward, including landing a straight right in the 10th that would have floored many a man.

In the end, though, Cleverly’s champion pedigree saw him come on strong at the finish, and it was he who looked much the more confident over the outcome when the final bell sounded to end a sensational Anglo-Welsh battle that will leave many calling for a second instalment.,,12183_7244849,00.html