Bellew left frustrated in bid to line up Dawson title fight after draw with Chilemba
By Martin Domin
For the second time in little over a month, the Liverpool crowd left the Echo Arena disappointed after Tony Bellew could only muster a draw against Isaac Chilemba in the final eliminator for a shot at the WBC light-heavyweight title.
Frustration: Tony Bellew (right) has to settle for a draw against rival Isaac Chilemba
The Malawian had lost just once coming into the fight, a six-round points defeat he immediately avenged, with the only other blemish on his record a controversial draw with the still-unbeaten Thomas Oosthuizen.
On hold: Bellew was desperate to win the bout to line up a fight with Chad Dawson
In theory, that should pit the best two challengers together but in the case of Kell Brook, his dominant win over Hector Saldivia suggested that is not always the case.
Flush: Bellew takes one on the chin as the pair battled the bout out
Chilemba, who had woken on the morning of the fight with flu, started slowly and perhaps conceded the first three rounds.
Breaking even: The pair stand united after their draw in Liverpool
Both fighters immediately called for a rematch with Chilemba insisting he would not return to the UK.
Tony Bellew held to a draw by Isaac Chilemba in WBC light-heavyweight fight
By Gareth A Davies, Boxing Correspondent
Light-heavyweight Tony Bellew suffered the agony of a draw last night in the sternest boxing test of his career since his world title defeat to Nathan Cleverly in 2011.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Malawian Isaac Chilemba scuppered the Liverpudlian’s route to a guaranteed challenge at the World Boxing Council crown.
Tony Bellew draws final eliminator with Isaac Chilemba in Liverpool
Tony Bellew drew with Isaac Chilemba in their WBC light-heavyweight title final eliminator.
Bellew, the 30-year-old from Liverpool, knew a win would put him in position to take on American champion Chad Dawson.
Tony Bellew fights to controversial draw with Isaac Chilemba at Echo Arena
Tony Bellew's hopes of a shot at the WBC light-heavyweight world title are in limbo after a controversial draw with Isaac Chilemba in Liverpool.
Tony Bellew (L): Was adamant he did enough to win (Image: leighdawneyphotography.com)'The Bomber' was below his best as he dealt with an awkward opponent in front of a home crowd at the Echo Arena, but was still expected to be announced as the winner at the end of 12 rounds.
However, he was only awarded victory by one point on one of the judges' scorecards, with another scoring it a draw at 114-114 and the third giving it 116-112 in favour of Chilemba.
Judges leave Bellew speechless
The contest was meant to be a final eliminator for Chad Dawson's title, but the identity of the American's mandatory challenger is still up in the air following the inconclusive result.
"I'm going to be totally honest - I thought I won that fight. I thought I won nine of the 12 rounds," Bellew told Sky Sports after the bout.
"I took a stupid round off in round six or seven and I let him gain a bit of momentum and get back into the fight. But I thought I won the fight.
"Buddy McGirt (Chilemba's trainer) just told me, 'I think you got it'. That's a very knowledgeable man, a man I respect in boxing. His opinion was, 'going into the last round Tone, I think you got it'. I don't know what to say."
Bellew started in typically aggressive style and had Chilemba backed up for the majority of the opening round, even getting a little physical after the bell following a stare down from his opponent.
The home favourite continued to come forward and although he struggled to connect with many clean shots, his pressure gave the impression he was racking up a comfortable lead on the scorecards.
After being read the riot act by trainer McGirt at the end of round six, Chilemba started to come forward and, during the middle stanzas, it was the Malawian who was producing all of the quality work.
Bellew did put the pressure back on in the closing stages, but his aggression was not enough to swing the decision his way.
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