Tony Bellew fights to controversial draw with Isaac Chilemba at Echo Arena
Tony Bellew's hopes of a world title shot are in limbo after a controversial draw with Isaac Chilemba in Liverpool.
Last Updated: 08/05/13 2:11pm
'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.
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.