WBC cruiserweight world champion Tony Bellew makes his first defence of his title against American BJ Flores at the Echo Arena, Liverpool on Saturday night.
Bellew burst onto the boxing scene in 2010 claiming the light heavyweight commonwealth title. This year he went on to win the WBC cruiserweight title after a stunning third round knockout win over Congolese Ilunga Makabu at his beloved Goodison Park (home of Everton FC) back in May and take the vacant title.
The fight also sees Birkenhead man Sean ‘Masher’ Dodd defending his WBC International Lightweight title against Dewsbury’s Gary Sykes on the undercard
Bellew’s biggest fight to date has no doubt been the clash with Nathan Cleverly in 2011 for the WBO Light heavyweight title. The fight went the distance but Cleverly wore Bellew down and won the fight by a majority decision.
In 2014 Bellew made the decision to move to cruiserweight and in November that year got his revenge on Cleverly winning via split decision after 12 rounds of heavy hitting.
Bellew’s experiences against Cleverly will put him in good stead as he faces big hitting Flores but he certainly faces a stern test against the Californian on Saturday night.
Like Bellew, Flores was victorious last time out as he overcame Mexican Roberto Santos in Vegas after having lost his first World title bout despite going the distance against Kazakh Beibut Shumenov also in Las Vegas in July 2015.
Both fighters boast impressive (and similar) fight records. 37-year-old Flores turned professional in May 2003 and has had a 35 fight career suffering just the two defeats, one draw and 20 wins by way of knockout.
Similarly, Bellew (at four years Flores’s junior), has had a 30 fight career after turning professional in October 2007, equally suffering just two defeats, one draw and 17 wins by way of knockout
Who Will Win
The two fighter’s records suggest a tight affair is in order, however, that is not quite the case as Tony Bellew is the heavy favourite to successfully defend his title at the first attempt.
Seen as the better equipped and more skilled of the two, Bellew should have too much for Flores to contend with, but Flores could still cause a few problems for Bellew, especially if he lands one of his heavy jabs on Bellew early on.
However, avoid the big hits and Bellew should be able to wear Flores down as he is susceptible to tiring quickly and should come through the fight without too many issues.
Don’t expect this to go the distance with Bellew getting the better of Flores inside 8 rounds.
What do the odds look like?
At 50/1 on, you are not going to get much value on a Bellew victory, but somewhat of an outsider bet is the 15/2 comeon.com offer for Flores to take the WBC Cruiserweight title.
As unlikely as that may be, in boxing all it takes is one well-placed hook or jab and even the favourite could end up on their backs on the canvas.