Wardley and Clarke contest bruising draw in London

3 weeks ago 23

British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Fabio Wardley and challenger Frazer Clarke contested a thrilling and bruising split-decision draw in London.

Wardley floored Clarke with a flurry of punches in the fifth but was bloodied for the majority of the contest.

Clarke too enjoyed success in a back-and-forth encounter in front of 13,000 feverish fans at the O2 Arena.

One judge scored it 114-113 to Wardley, the other 115-112 to Clarke, with a third unable to split them at 113-113.

There were no post-fight interviews as both fighters immediately went backstage to get checked by medics.

They retain their unbeaten records, with a rematch the most obvious next step for both fighters.

An intriguing contest - billed as 'bad blood' - between two fighters with contrasting journeys lived up to all the hype.

Olympic bronze medallist Clarke, 32, honed his craft as part of the TeamGB set-up and through winning multiple amateur titles, whereas Wardley only began hitting a punchbag aged 22 while still working in recruitment.

Clarke's schooling was apparent from the start, the amateur star winning the jab battle and landing uppercuts on the inside.

As blood from a cut in the second round dripped from Wardley's nose on to his blue and white shorts, a nod to his beloved Ipswich Town Football Club, the 29-year-old came back fighting.

Wardley - who competed just four times on the unlicensed white-collar scene before turning pro - pounced on his opponent in the fifth, landing a short right as Clarke backpedalled and slumped to the floor.

Clarke was docked a point for a low blow in the seventh but found a second wind against a noticeably fatigued and bloodied opponent.

The doctor examined Wardley's nose in the 10th, a swollen right eye also hindering his sight.

But just seconds after being given the green light to continue, he remarkably landed a flurry of shots as both men continued to trade in the championship rounds.

Staggered in the final minute of the contest by a huge right, Wardley somehow managed to stay on his feet, still throwing hands up until the last bell.

This was a bout a year in the making after they were ordered to fight in April 2023 only for Clarke's promoters to withdraw him on the day of the purse bid.

They argued it was all about the timing, and the wait proved to be worth it.

English cruiserweight champion Viddal Riley earned a well-disciplined points win over Mikael Lawal, before clashing with two domestic rivals in his post-fight interview.

The 26-year-old - who extends his unbeaten record to 11 wins - circled around the ring, flicking the jab and counter-punching on the move as a frustrated Lawal struggled to close the distance.

British champion Isaac Chamberlain gatecrashed Riley's ringside interview, telling him: "If you think you can box like that against me, you got another thing coming."

The verbal spat continued until Olympian Chev Clarke - mandatory for Chamberlain's cruiserweight title - attempted to join the pair, prompting a melee between the fighters as security intervened.

Also on the undercard, undefeated light-heavyweight Ben Whittaker showboated his way to a points win over the game Leon Willings.

The Olympic silver medallist - who made his entrance alongside dance group Diversity - danced in the ring and played up to the crowd. He even took time to talk to Willings' corner during the fight.

Whittaker - who dropped his opponent with a chopping right in the first - was the deserved winner but it was not all one way traffic as Willings landed clean rights against a low guard.

"I can take shots and I just wanted to show that," Whittaker said after his seventh pro win.

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