By Michael Collins: Tony Bellew (19-1, 12 KO’s) will be trying to put himself in position for a title shot when he faces Isaac Chilemba (20-1-1, 9 KO’s) on March 30th in a WBC light heavyweight title eliminator bout at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, UK. #3 WBC Bellew can’t afford to lose this fight if he wants to get a shot against WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson this year.
Both fights are going to be very tough for the 30-year-old Bellew because these aren’t the typical fodder opponents that he’s been dining on most of his career. Chilemba is one of the best fighters in the division, and might even be good enough to beat WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly, who beat Bellew by a 12 round majority decision in October 2011. Chilemba can really bring and he’s got some good wins on his resume with victories over Maxim Vlasov, Edison Miranda and a nice draw with Thomas Oosthuizen.
Bellew has gotten too used to blowing out weak opposition and it’s going to be interesting to see how he adjusts to someone he can’t take out and who keeps coming forward. Bellew looked mighty stressed out in his recent fight against Miranda last year in September. Bellew won the fight by a 9th round TKO, but he was clearly bothered and worried about Miranda’s big power.
In Bellew’s last fight against the light hitting Robert Bolonti last November, Bellew had a lot less to worry about and he fought well. However, when Bolonti was actually throwing punches, he was finding Bellew. He cut Bellew in the 1st round when he walked into one of Bolonti’s big shots and suffered a nasty cut on his right eyebrow. Luckily for Bellew, Bolonti pretty much stopped punching after that and made it relatively easy for him the rest of the way.