By Sarabjit Sandhu: In a storybook finish, Tony Bellew (27-2-1, 17 KOs) got up off the canvas from an early 1st round knockout and went on to stop favorite Ilunga Makabu ((19-2, 19 KOs) in the 3rd round to win a highly coveted WBC cruiserweight title at the Goodison Park Stadium in Liverpool, England.
Makabu thought it would be a good idea to fight with his back against the ropes in the 3rd. As it turns out, it wasn’t such a great idea, as Bellew was able to throw a storm of punches until Makabu dropped to the canvas and the fight was stopped. It’s never a good idea for fighters to fight with thier back against the ropes because they can’t pull away or escape from shots.
Bellew was knocked down in the 1st round from a left hand to the head by Makabu. Bellew came back to control the 2nd round by jabbing and keeping the action on the outside. In the 3rd round, Bellew saw his chance when Makabu backed up against the ropes. Bellew then fired a salvo of shots that reduced Makabu to a pile of rubble on the canvas.
Unbeaten super middleweight champion Callum Smith (20-0, 15 KOs) struggled to beat Cesar Hernan Reynoso (14-8-3, 7 KOs) by a harder than expected 6th round TKO. The fight was stopped with Reynoso taking punishment in the 6th. He was still fighting back but not throwing enough to satisfy referee Steve Gray. The fight was stopped at 2:02 of the round. Reynoso hit the canvas three times in the fight in getting dropped in the 1st, 4th and 5th rounds.
Heavyweight David Price (20-3, 17 KOs) had an easy tie defeating Vaclav Pejsar (9-3, 8 KOs) by a 2nd round knockout. Price flattened Pejsar in both rounds in dropping him once in the 1st and another time in the 2nd. The fight was stopped upon Pejsar getting knocked down in the 2nd. The fight was stopped at 1:30 o the round.
Struggling super middleweight Paul Smith (37-6, 21 KOs) was forced to go the distance in beating Bartlomiej Grafka (17-21-3, 8 KOs) by a six round decision. Smith fought at a slow pace in landing at will with big shots. Grafka showed a good chin in going the distance. Smith probably could have ended the fight early, but it looked like he was trying to get in rounds. The fight was scored 59-55.
Smith has had bad luck in his career in the last two years in losing twice to former WBO super middleweight champion Arthur Abraham and Andre Ward. Those were all nice paying fights for the 33-year-old Smith, and he was fortunate to get the fights given that he’s not seen as a major talent at 168.
For Smith to get back into the thick of things at super middleweight, he’s going to need some wins over quality fighters. The thing is I don’t see Smith as having the talent too beat the better fighters in the division. He’s kind of stuck as a mere fringe contender at this point in his career.