Tony Bellew made the first defence of his WBC cruiserweight title last night, with a crushing third round technical knockout victory over BJ Flores.
After capturing the vacant title in May of this year against South African dangerman Ilunga Makabu under the lights at his beloved Goodison Park, Bellew and his team negotiated his maiden defence against the brash American Flores after a Twitter tirade between the two rubbed Bellew up the wrong way. That same ill feeling between the two was present throughout fight week right up until the first bell.
Flores started the fight fast, marking his intentions with a stiff jab targeting the mid section of Bellew, with the Champion seemingly keen to walk his man down and get a feel for his power.
Just seconds into the next round, things changed dramatically for Flores; bent-double and complaining to referee Ian-John Lewis about a low blow, Bellew pounced on his injured foe, landing a right hand and left hook in the clench sending him to the canvas.
Flores gamely made his feet before the count, but more punishment was on its way. Just seconds later both men were throwing wild hooks and it was the away fighter on the end of a left hook again which sent him to his knees.
Bravely making his feet before the count, Flores met Bellew centre ring and the pair traded hook after hook after hook – Flores again succumbing to a right hand from the Liverpool man and falling to his knees. The bell sounded for the end of the round, with the challenger beating the count and stumbling back to his corner as Bellew played to a jubilant home crowd.
If Flores thought his second attempt at world honours were on track after the first round, then he certainly didn’t after the second had finished.
Bellew knew his man was on the brink and set about him in the third, exchanging jabs with the American who looked to be giving it his final push.
Both fighters threw a left hook and Bellew was quicker – knocking Flores down – downing the challenger to his knees for the final time. Referee Ian- John Lewis stopped the contest despite Flores making it to unsteady feet, deeming the four knockdowns adequate punishment at 2:11 of the round.
At the sight of rival David Haye ringside, Bellew launched himself through the ropes as the referee was tending to Flores, before a security circus broke the two apart.
Bellew was livid and adamant he’d meet the former unified cruiserweight and WBA heavyweight champion in the ring.
“Bitch don’t run! See you? You’re going to get smashed. We remember what it was like when I was an amateur. Me and Pricey spanked you in the gym and next day you pulled out against Mark Hobson. With 10oz gloves on boy – I’ll put you and that stupid hair cut to sleep!” He screamed at Haye.
Luke Campbell MBE continued his assault on the lightweight division with a fourth round technical knockout victory over former WBA interim titlist Derry Mathews.
Both fighters looked quite equal in the opener with Mathews possibly taking his share of the spoils and the same could be said of the second as Campbell upped his work rate to nick the round.
A short left hand was to see Campbell march ahead as Mathews hit the canvas during the third. A double knockdown in the fourth ended the contest early as Campbell finished Mathews with two body shots which crippled the former British champion for the full count.
Ryan Burnett successfully defended his British title with a unanimous points decision against home fighter Ryan Farrag.
Both fighters exchanged leather throughout the fight but the cleaner shots through the middle rounds paid dividends for Burnett as Farrag slowed down in the championship rounds.
Birkenhead favourite Sean ‘Masher’ Dodd won a controversial points decision against Francesco Patera to retain his WBC lightweight international title.
Most ringside saw the away fighter winning the contest handily but a split decision was handed to the popular lightweight banger.
Tony Bellew’s WBC mandatory challenger Mairis Briedis gained a third round stoppage against Simon Vallily, with the referee jumping into call a halt to the contest at 2.36.
Craig Glover, Tom Farrell, Paul Economides, Ged Carroll and Scott Fitzgerald all picked up routine points victories, whilst Rocky Fielding blew out the over matched Istvan Zeller inside two rounds.