British light heavyweight champion Tony Bellew came back from his first career loss with a pretty sensational performance today in Liverpool, smashing Danny McIntosh and ending the fight at 38 seconds of the fifth round with a clean right hand that forced referee Terry O'Connor's hand, ending a one-sided beating.
McIntosh (13-3, 7 KO) was all guts and bravery in the ring, but unfortunately that wasn't nearly enough. He had his best moments in the first round, as he came out aggressive and mixed it up fairly well with Bellew, but the hometown "Bomber" started to take control in the final minute of the round, and he never let up from there.
In the second, Bellew began to dominate with his jab, switching it up in the last minute again and taking firmer control of the action. Rather rapidly, McIntosh began to wilt as Bellew mixed in hard body shots with a solid, range-controlling jab and big right hands to the head.
By the fourth round, the fight was as good as over, as Bellew (17-1, 11 KO) continued his focused assault. McIntosh's corner tried their best to keep their man focused on the task at hand and convince him that Bellew would run out of gas and punch himself out, but neither appeared so much as possible, let alone likely. In reality, there was little wasted motion from Bellew, as he bashed McIntosh around the ring and put him down at the end of the fourth round. The referee probably could have stopped it there -- we see far more questionable stoppages routinely -- but it was allowed to continue.
Bellew wasted no time in the fifth, taking McIntosh out with a single big right hand, putting the challenger down again. O'Connor didn't waste anyone's time with a count, calling the fight off then and there.
For Bellew, it's a good win, and certainly a nice bounce-back from his last fight, a tight loss to Nathan Cleverly in October. It would be difficult to say that Bellew is genuinely headed for world title contention, but on this night he did what he should have done with a limited but game opponent, as he outclassed McIntosh and was clearly on another level. If he is to make strides toward that highest level, that's what he should have been expected to do with McIntosh, and he did it.