Bellew seizes his second chance
Tony Bellew got the job done at the second time of asking against Isaac Chilemba to earn himself a mandatory shot at the WBC light-heavyweight title.
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The Liverpudlian was left disappointed in March when he could only draw with Chilemba in Liverpool when the pair contested their final eliminator first time around.
Bellew vowed to get the job done after securing a quick rematch on the undercard of Carl Froch's clash with Mikkel Kessler at the O2 Arena, and won comfortably to set up a meeting with the winner of Chad Dawson's defence against Adonis Stevenson.
Bellew, who came in with a record of 19-1-1 with 12KO wins, was too placid by his own admission in their first encounter and the rematch started more promisingly than their first bout.
The pair exchanged early hooks and Bellew's stiff jab looked impressive as he carried the fight to his South Africa-based opponent.
Chilemba (20-1-2, nine KOs) was no mere spectator, but Bellew clearly took the first round.
Bellew landed a big right in the second which checked out Chilemba's chin, which stood up to the shot despite a slight wobble in the legs.
A Bellew counter right towards the end of the round was even more impressive as he picked his shots but kept on the front foot. The Scouser's jab was controlling the fight and nullifying Chilemba's speed nicely while he successfully went to the body twice with shots from both hand in the third.
After a quieter two rounds Bellew jumped in with a lovely right hand in the sixth which Chilemba again took well.
The action had descended into scrappier stuff by the middle rounds as Bellew sought to maintain his advantage.
Chilemba was landing the occasional counter without doing quite enough to win him the fight. Both men landed left hooks simultaneously in the ninth as the fight became more attritional heading towards the final bell.
Both men landed solid shots in the 12th - some of them low - and a right from Bellew was perhaps his best work in the second half of the fight as he seemed to be on his way to a wide points win.
That victory was confirmed at the conclusion, with the Briton winning via scores of 116-112, 117-112 and 116-112.
Bellew said: "I went straight back into camp and there were times in training when I was done, I've hated boxing in the last few weeks. But I've dug in.
"I've tortured myself since the last fight and put up with some stick but I got in there tonight and stuck to the plan.
"I was much better tonight. To all you people abusing me on Twitter, stick it up your arse."