The Pugilist

Another Great British rivalry hits the wall

From the result of their fight to their respective fortunes in 2012, Bellew (pictured) and Cleverly have been polar …

Over the course of 2012, The Pugilist has not covered the trials and tribulations of any boxer more than reigning IBF super middleweight champion Carl Froch.

Beginning with a balanced reflection on what looked to be, and was, a career-defining fight with Lucian Bute, TP has also since blogged twice about the ramifications of 'Cobra' Carl's plans to offer Le Tombeur a rematch in Montreal — both the good, and the bad.

But as Froch prepares for an atypically unchallenging first defence of the belt he took from the Romanian-born Bute when he battles Yusaf Mack in front of his own in Nottingham on Saturday, one cannot help but allow their attention to wander to the undercard.

Froch-Mack tale of the tape

An undercard, on this occasion, spearheaded by Tony Bellew. The 29-year-old has been well matched with Argentina's Roberto Bolonti (record 30-1).

'The Bomber' most recently topped an enjoyable card at London's Alexandra Palace in September, disproving doubters (myself included) with a stirring stoppage of Edison Miranda to underscore his world title aspirations.

Of course, his one previous challenge was the majority decision loss to Nathan Cleverly. A solitary blemish on his 16-1 record to date which nonetheless raised his profile more than any of the victories which preceded it had and offered a possible glimpse of a long-overdue Great British boxing feud.

We had campaigned for more from the two right here on this very blog, but unfortunately both parties appear adamant now that it will not happen.

Watching a replay of their October 15, 2011 cracker, the post-fight interviews were promising on one level, but the complete opposite was visible beneath the surface.

Cleverly and Bellew sat beside each other on the ring apron as they poured (deserved) respect over one another. Questions on the topic of a rematch from the ringside interviewer were politely welcomed by both.

However, eye contact between the two was minimal and any sort of true warmth — outside of Cleverly's courteous pat on Bellew's shoulder as the Liverpudlian spoke morbidly of 'letting his family down' in defeat — was virtually non-existent.

This kind of cold, begrudged interaction used to be the breeding ground of sporting rivalries, especially in boxing. Not anymore.

With no press conference brawls and license withdrawals in sight, the two have simply grown apart in the thirteen months since. Bellew is on a second wind, while champion Cleverly has not been able to build on his momentum as much as he would have hoped in 2012.

Bellew has soured the relationship between the two on virtually every media outlet in which Clev's name has cropped, which would be rather fun if the two were to ever cross paths again, but his most recent rant all but put the final nail into that coffin:

"It's not going to materialise when you are fighting guys like Shawn Hawk," Bellew said of Nathan's successful title defence this past Saturday in LA.

"Let's be totally honest here: I was offered Shawn Hawk, he was number five on the opponents we had for the fight and Roberto Bolonti was the highest possible ranked opponent I could have fought.

"It's a joke of a fight in my opinion and where are you going with fights like that? You are supposed to be a world champion.

"Fight someone who is going to make you a world class fighter because at the moment you are fighting chumps."

Bellew-Bolonti tale of the tape

Fortunately for boxing fans, both men are gunning for interesting fights in 2013 if not with one another. Cleverly's sights appear set on Bernard Hopkins, while the ever-ambitious Bellew hopes to challenge Hopkins' April conqueror Chad Dawson if he emerges victorious in Nottingham.

Bellew said: "Chad Dawson is a good fighter, he really is. He does what he does well. I'm coming off the Edison Miranda win, he's coming off the Andre Ward loss, a comprehensive loss.

"I fear no-one at light-heavyweight and I'm confident I can do the job that Andre Ward done."

While that remains to be seen, Bellew's performances thus far as a professional boxer suggest it will be fun to watch him try.

RESULTS:

The Pugilist asked last week if anybody would be able to follow the Klitschkos in the heavyweight division. And unfortunately, as expected, Wladimir cast further doubt over the health of maximum-weight fighting on Saturday.

Wlad dominated Mariusz Wach in Hamburg with only a fifth-round haymaker from the Pole suggesting any sort of Klitschko vulnerability.

Titles were also defended across the board on a busy night in Los Angeles, as Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz retained the WBC super bantamweight and IBF bantamweight straps respectively after Cleverly had stopped Hawk in his maiden Stateside defence of the WBO light heavy crown.

WBA super-featherweight champion Chris John of Indonesia successfully defended his title on points against previously unbeaten Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on Friday.

And a controversial finish marred the return of Enzo Maccarinelli in his failed bid for Ovil McKenzie's Commonwealth title in Liverpool.

COMING UP THIS WEEKEND:

He's brash, he's unique and he has an unhealthy obsession with his hair, but Adrien Broner could well be a top pound-for-pound boxer of the future, and his challenge of Antonio DeMarco for the WBC lightweight championship in Atlantic City is the pick of the weekend's action.

DeMarco-Broner tale of the tape

Yahoo! Stateside fight sport expert Kevin Iole expects great things from the 23-year-old making his debut at 135lbs — as long as he bucks up his ideas.

Meanwhile, Broner's ego may not be the only thing oversized at the weekend: after being stripped of the WBO super featherweight belt for failing to make weight for a defence against Vicente Escobedo in July, reports suggest that DeMarco's purse for the fight will be contractually doubled should lightning strike twice.

And LA is once again a world title hotbed on the 17th, with a card headlined by Hernan Marquez and Brian Viloria unifying the WBA and WBO editions of the flyweight championship with Roman Gonzalez defending his WBA junior fly strap against Juan Francisco Estrada underneath.

All of the results, as well as LIVE chat and coverage of the Froch and Bellew fights plus more from Nottingham, will be available on the Eurosport-Yahoo! website.