Following a defiant seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza (22-1, 12...
Bell Unifies Cruiserweight Championship
NEW YORK — O’Neil Bell is the premier cruiserweight in the world. Bell, a native of Montego Bay, Jamaica, became the first fighter since Evander Holyfield to unify the cruiserweight championship.
Bell 26-1-1, 24 KOs) knocked out Jean-Marc Mormeck (32-3, 21 KOs) at 2:58 of the tenth round to win the WBC/WBA cruiserweight championships at the Theater of Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday.
He’s also the first cruiserweight to become undisputed cruiserweight champion under the 200 pound cruiserweight limit. Holyfield unified the cruiserweight titles under the old 190-pound weight limit in 1988.
The date was February 19, 1998. Bell won his first professional debut by knocking out William Holyfield, Evander Holyfield’s cousin. Ironically, two months later, Holyfield would beat Carlos DeLeon (KO 8) to unify the world cruiserweight title.
Five years and eleven months later, very few believed that Bell would have knocked out 24 of his last 26 opponents including Mormeck, the first and only Frenchman to unify the WBC/WBA cruiserweight titles. In Bell’s finest hour, he beat an opponent in Mormeck who had not lost a fight in almost nine years.
Bell weathered Mormeck’s storm of overhand left hooks and uppercuts in the early moments. Bell was not as strong as Mormeck, but Bell was the busier fighter throwing plenty of punches in flurries which made difficult for Mormeck to hit Bell cleanly.
“He didn’t hurt me, but I did feel the body shots he threw,” Bell said after the fight. “He has a lot of power and was a great champion.”
Mormeck was noticeably breathing heavy as the bout reached the third round. Mormeck, a dangerous puncher, kept throwing hard right and left hooks to Bell’s body. Mormeck stunned Bell on several occasions, but Bell kept fighting back and withstood Mormeck’s best punches.
“I threw two right hands in the fourth that hurt [Mormeck],” Bell added. “He responded with two body shots, but I broke him.”
The tide of the bout changed in seventh round after a fatigued Mormeck staggered around the ring and fought the remainder of the fight against the ropes. Bell was relentless, trapping his soon to be prey against the ropes in a defensive position.
“I sustained his best shots,” Bell said. “I broke his spirit. I knew then I would win.”
The end came at 2:58 of round ten. Bell hurt a fatigued Mormeck with a barrage of punches that left him on his back for several minutes.
“Obviously, I am a bit upset and very disappointed,” Mormeck said after the bout. “I lost my belts, but I’m alright. I don’t know what changed things. At a certain point I realized he was a great champion and he was winning… I’ve been busy with most of my business.”
Bell won the IBF cruiserweight title by winning a 12-round unanimous decision against Dale Brown. Bell’s WBC/WBA title-winning victory against Mormeck was Bell’s second successful defense of the IBF title.