Tony Bellew may not have had his most scintillating performance today in London, but he forced veteran slugger Edison Miranda to quit in the ninth round after a knockdown, scoring another win and keeping himself in the mix at 175 pounds.
Bellew (18-1, 12 KO) and Miranda (35-8, 30 KO) both started a bit slow, but Miranda tried to turn up the heat in the second round and make it a slugfest, which didn't really wind up working. The fight was fairly even most of the way, with neither man consistently pressing the action, and Bellew making the same small but incredibly noticeable mistakes he tends to make all the time, including not going after Miranda, who is undersized at 175 pounds, when he was hurt, instead totally taking his foot off the gas.
But the ninth round knockdown was plenty for the 31-year-old Colombian, who has always lost on his biggest stages, and didn't change that trend tonight. Miranda was at one point a really tough guy to go with being really strong, but like fellow trash talking brawler Ricardo Mayorga, the years are starting to catch up to him very clearly, and he just doesn't have the same determination to walk through fire that he used to. This pretty much happens to all of us in all walks of life, unless you're a total weirdo, so it's not really a knock. It's completely logical and understandable.
The fight for Bellew is obviously a rematch with Nathan Cleverly, but given the promotional situations there and the fact that it seems the Bellew fight scared Cleverly's team to death the first time, that's unlikely. He's a quality, likeable fighter, flawed but always game, who has tried to improve himself each time out. He was once a free swinger, but has settled down and become more patient. Maybe it's not always as exciting, but I do think Bellew has become a seriously better fighter than he once was, and he's better now than I used to believe he would wind up.
Erick Ochieng stopped Ryan Toms in the fifth round to retain his English junior middleweight title, and it sounds like it's the final time he'll be doing that, as promoter Eddie Hearn says they're ready to move up and take on the best domestic fighters at 154 pounds, including British champ Brian Rose. Ochieng started slow in the first round and gradually turned up the heat on Toms before crushing him with a left hook to the body in round five. Though Toms got up and fought on, another well-placed left to the body put him down a second time, and he'd had enough. Ochieng 11-1 (4), Toms 11-3-1 (6).
Lee Purdy and Argentina's Gumersindo Carrasco put on a hell of a show in their four rounds of action, with Carrasco's style being what I would call, "FUCK YOU, COPPERS!" Carrasco didn't have Purdy's overall game and skills, but he was flinging power shots like they were going out of style. Purdy scored a bunk official knockdown in the first, but the two that came in round four and ultimately led to the stoppage were legit. Really fun fight -- track it down. Purdy 19-3-1 (12), Carrasco 16-1 (13).