Wardley and Clarke draw epic British heavyweight title fight

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Wardley and Clarke draw epic British heavyweight title fight

Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke drew in an epic heavyweight contest that proved too close to call.

After 12 breath-taking rounds on one card Wardley won 114-113, on another Clarke had it 115-112 and on the third they were level 113-113.

Clarke had to rise from a knockdown in the fifth round and had a point deducted for a low blow, moments that proved to be decisive.

An Olympic bronze medallist in 2021, Clarke was taking by far the biggest step up of his professional career challenging Wardley for the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles.

BEN SHALOM BOXXER BAD BLOOD FIGHT WEEK.THE O2 LONDON 31/03/2024.FABIO WARDLEY V FRAZER CLARKE.PIC LAWRENCE LUSTIG/BOXXER.(PICS FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY).BRITISH & COMMONWEALTH HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP.FABIO WARDLEY V FRAZER CLARKE

Image: Clarke measured him out with his jab

Their bout was freighted with personal significance too, with Wardley mocking Clarke ever since he contentiously withdrew from a mandated purse bid last year.

In the subsequent months, anticipation for their contest only built, with 13,000 supporters packing into the O2 to create an uproarious atmosphere.

It turned this into the most significant British heavyweight title fight since Anthony Joshua beat Dillian Whyte at this same arena in 2015.

Clarke was fighting for these titles in just his ninth professional contest. Nevertheless, early on, he kept his composure.

He stepped back from a whipping right and continually applied his jab. Clarke’s cross shuddered against a well-held guard and Clarke turned a delicate punch into the body.

Wardley burst forward to start the second round, heavy hooks flying at Clarke. The challenger retreated into a corner under that pressure and he had to manoeuvre himself out of trouble.

He did so and hit back with power punches of his own.

A firm right met Wardley who, just for a moment, buckled. That though just spurred the Ipswich man on. He charged at Clarke, wielding dangerous punches yet again.

But Clarke picked out effective uppercuts to tag his rival.

Wardley’s nose was bloodied by the third round. But even when Clarke landed with stunning force, the champion regrouped and fired back.

He whipped his right over the top in the fifth round and clipped Clarke with a stern combination.

A sharp right caught Clarke as he was throwing and Wardley lined up more big hits, blasting the challenger off his feet.

BEN SHALOM BOXXER BAD BLOOD FIGHT WEEK.THE O2 LONDON 31/03/2024.FABIO WARDLEY V FRAZER CLARKE.PIC LAWRENCE LUSTIG/BOXXER.(PICS FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY).BRITISH & COMMONWEALTH HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP.FABIO WARDLEY V FRAZER CLARKE

Image: But Wardley was offensively dangerous

Clarke beat the count and the bell rang to end the round before Wardley could press the onslaught home.

To start the sixth round Wardley drove Clarke back with jabs before shaking him with a big uppercut. The challenger though defused an attack with an uppercut of his own.

Clarke lost a point when the referee warned him for a low blow in the seventh round. He still found hurtful shots to the head though, timing a left hook and ripping a right uppercut through.

Snorting blood from his damaged nose, Wardley hacked hooks into Clarke’s body. Clarke though just beat Wardley to the punch with his right cross.

A light punch just tipped Wardley away. By the ninth round the champion appeared to be flagging, some of the energy leaking out of his efforts.

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Watch Fabio Wardley floor Frazer Clarke at the end of the fifth round during their title fight at the O2 Arena

Still they engaged furiously in the next round. But referee Steve Gray summoned the doctor to inspect Wardley’s nose.

Wardley responded to that, catching Clarke with a monstrous right and forcing the challenger to clinch.

However, thrown into a Wardley attack, Clarke’s cross stopped his opponent in his tracks.

It was gripping, compelling action. Wardley went at him to start the final round too. Clarke, breathing heavily, still powered a right hook into the body, straining to find a breakthrough.

A slashing right hook to the chin did drive Wardley to the ropes. But the proud champion did not stay there, fighting to the end. He retained his titles, but neither man lost.

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