By Matt Amos – Last night Tony Bellew increased his standing in the 175 Pound Light Heavyweight division with a solid ninth round stoppage over erratic Columbian Edison Miranda. As predicted the “Bomber” needed to focus during the first four shared rounds but Miranda seemed too visibly tire as the fight progressed, frustrated by the long sharp jab and skillful body punches of the Liverpudlian. The Columbian had his moments with his powerful right hand but Bellew never seemed to be in trouble and his superior boxing skills ultimately ended the fight in the 9th when he displayed a nice variety of accurate punches, ending in a clinical left to the body which Miranda had no answer too as he refused to take any more punishment.
What next for Bellew?
With the domestic scene very limited and having dispatched Commonwealth champ Ovil McKenzie and former European belt holder Danny McIntosh in fine style last time out the Bomber must hope Eddie Hearn can match him with one of the top 10 contenders in the near future. One fight that would make good sense for Bellew would be with current European Champion and Danny McIntosh’s conqueror, Eduard Gutknecht. The light punching 30 year old German would be a good fit for the Bomber and he carries a high ranking with the major sanctioning body thanks to his well regarded EBU title (currently no. 3 with WBC/WBA). I see little problem in Bellew easing to victory against the ordinary Gutknecht and following in the footsteps of fellow scouser John Conteh before progressing towards a world title, however, the one issue with this contest is the German’s refusal to fight outside of his home country which wouldn’t fit in with Hearn’s plans to put Bellew as the chief supporting fight on Carl Froch’s next contest in Nottingham.
Alternatively he could mark time with a number of fringe contenders such as Karo Murat (IBF no. 2) who Nathan Cleverly stopped in 10 rounds or aging Spaniard Gabriel Campillo (former WBA champion) who fought Tavoris Cloud to a SD last time out, both of whom Bellew should have only minor problems against. Another interesting contest would be against 24 year old US based Pole Andrzej Fonfara who defeated legend Glen Johnson last time out. The well respected Warsaw born fighter has improved considerably since been stopped by Derrick Findlay in two rounds over four years ago and would be an excellent test for Bellew. He is in a number of publications’ top 10 lists and would be a good gauge for the Bomber to see if he is ready to enter into World Title class.
Of the four “World Champions”, despite his dismantling at the hands of Andre Ward last night, WBC King Chad Dawson might be a step too far at this point in Bellew’s career as probably would be the case with IBF Champ Tavoris Cloud. However I definitely feel the Bomber has the tools to beat Campillo’s conqueror WBA champion Beibut Shumenov. The Kazakhstan fighter is the same age as Bellew and has looked solid if not spectacular in defences against relatively ordinary opposition and the Wavertree man definitely could step up and take the title from him. That leaves WBO title holder Nathan Cleverly, whose career seems to have stalled with promoter Frank Warren failing to get him any meaningful contests since beating Bellew in their first fight. Next up for him is an uninspiring bout against Vyacheslav Uzelkov who has been outpointed by both Gutknecht and Shumenov. Were Warren and Hearn able to make the rematch happen in the future, given Bellew’s improvement and the additional experience he has gained, I believe he would have every chance of taking the welsh man’s title in a close contest.
At 29, Tony Bellew is reaching his peak and he has every chance of emulating John Conteh as he continues his ascent up the Light Heavyweight Rankings if the right fights can be made.