Local boy Tony Bellew took a giant stride towards another shot at the world light-heavyweight title after ovecoming Roberto Bolonti in his bout at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham.
The 29-year-old put in a controlled, yet dominant, performance and showed some positive signs as he claimed his 19th career victory by a unanimous points decision.
Bellew said before the fight that he intended to go after Bolonti, and he was true to his word. In the first round he immediately got on the front foot, and forced the Argentinian to the canvas with a right-handed shot, despite claims that he was caught on the back of the head.
Bellew kept up the early pressure and a left hook caught Bolonti off balance, forcing him to the canvas for a second time in the third round, and this time it could not be disputed.
Despite the Bomber’s early dominance, it wasn’t all plain sailing as a left hand from the Argentine managed to open up a large cut above Bellew’s right eye, which caught the attention of the referee, meaning a more cautious approach from then on by the Scouser.
But Bellew showed that he could think well on his feet, as he still managed to land a couple of good shots on his 31-year-old opponent, using his superior reach to his advantage, and boxing intelligently to protect his right eye, even if it took something away from the spectacle.
Bolonti offered little more to breach Bellew’s defences, and after worries about Bellew’s cut began to fade, he began to quicken up the tempo with a flurry of punches to put Belonti up against the ropes in the ninth round, and a stinging uppercut in the 10th livened up an otherwise quiet crowd.
Bellew paid tribute to his corner man and his opponent after the fight. He said: “I’ve got the best cut man in the game with Mick Williamson. Once the cut come I took my foot off the gas a little bit.
“Credit where credit’s due, he’s [Belonti] got a tough chin.”
Bellew’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, confirmed that they will push for a final eliminator for a world title fight.
He said: “We’re going to be top five in the WBC. That was an eliminator for the world title and we’ll now push for a final eliminator with Chad Dawson.”