Saturday, 30 March 2013

Bellew Vs Chilemba - Will the "Bomber" prevail?

By Nathan Orr @OrrzBoxing.

At the Liverpool Echo Arena the local hero Tony Bellew (19-1-0) steps up to face challenger Issac Chilemba(20-1-1) as an eliminator for the WBC light heavyweight title. Personally I have found this fight as hard to predict as choosing a chocolate bar at Willy Wonkas factory!

The first thing that struck me was the lack of footage available on the Malawian boxer, after trawling through the internet I came across videos titled in Russian involving the figures of Issac Chilemba and power puncher Vlasov circling the ring. Admittingly I was impressed with what I saw from Chilemba, he led with a jab that could force many pressurising opponents onto the backfoot from the first bell. It’s clear from his fights that he is more comfortable on the outside rather than in close quarters and additionally with the help of Buddy McGirt he has learnt to mix it up in the inside with a variety of punches often linking in combinations.

My first impression of the Malawian from the weigh in and press conference was that he didn’t seem like much of a fighter but I couldn’t have been more wrong, Chilemba has been fighting his whole life. Life was tough for Issac growing up in Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries and being one of 9 siblings. Things only got worse at the age of 16 when he was forced to take responsibility for his large family with the passing away of his parents. Some may say that Chilemba looked nervous, scared and even fearful in the weigh in but the truth is he has faced much greater adversity than the spiteful stare of Tony Bellew.

Chilemba while remaining largely unknown to fight fans outside of Africa, has a great record of ripping up the script. Gaining a draw against highly rated prospect Oosthuizen and ending the unbeaten streaks of Vlasov, Bolling and Ngumbu. Underestimating Issac Chilemba is the worst mistake that Bellew can make on Saturday night and if he does he will suffer at his own peril.

On the other hand there is Tony, a highly emotional scouser who fights with his heart on his sleeve at every opportunity. Bellew has a case of what I would call “Boxer schizophrenia” where in the ring he can appear in two different personalities, it can either be the smart boxer who lost a close decision with Nathan Cleverly or alternatively the brawler who throws uppercuts and hooks at every opportunity as seen in the fight vs McIntosh. Which of these personalities enter the ring on Saturday night is crucial to the result and to who will have their hand raised at the end of the night.

Stylistically I feel that the fight will come down to the most important punch in boxing: The Jab. By looking at the technical abilities of both fighters this edges me towards picking Chilemba by holding the stronger jab over Bellew, but who knows with 8,000 scousers screaming at the top of their lungs it could well break into a toe to toe brawl leading to anyone being victorious.

Both of these fighters appear to have little similarities due to geographically being raised in such contrasting places like Liverpool and Malawi but what they do hold in common inside the ring is “heart.” Having “Heart” is often emphasised as a key feature in the sweet science and it can’t be underestimated, it’s a characteristic which can’t be trained but is simply ingrained in a fighter the day they lace up the gloves for the first time.
This characteristic has been displayed by both fighters evidently on occasions, Bellew coming back to be victorious after suffering knockdowns against McKenzie and Ajisafe. Meanwhile Chilemba fought through a torrid time vs Vlasov in the 8th round to grab the unanimous decision victory. These men bring their all in the ring and even if their legs wobble at points I anticipate punches to be continuously thrown from both parties.

An undeniable feature which could have a starring role is the 8,000 testosterone filled scousers roaring each time Bellew throws a punch, regardless of whether it lands on the figure of Issac Chilemba or not. For the 3 judges at ringside they will have to be focused and professional to not be naturally swayed by this factor if it goes to the scorecards. 

While I have no doubt about the entertainment the Liverpool crowd will witness, my fear is that the home crowd will allow the Bellew “Bomber” to become the burglar by stealing the decision from the grasp of Issac Chilemba’s hands. Either way, whoever seals the victory tomorrow night will be globally recognised by propelling themselves into a mouth watering contest vs Chad Dawson.

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