Boxing - Froch blitzes Mack, Bellew beats Bolonti

Carl Froch retained the IBF super middleweight title in his home city of Nottingham with a ruthless three-round pummeling of American Yusaf Mack.

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2012 Carl Froch

The 35-year-old 'Cobra', who won the title under the same roof in May by ending Lucian Bute's unbeaten run, exploited the first opening afforded to him by light-heavyweight Mack after a cautious first 90 seconds, knocking down down in the opening round.

After punctuating a relatively quiet second round with a late flurry, Froch finished off his outmatched foe with 30 seconds remaining in the third round with a vicious pair of shots to the midsection.

Left in a heap by the second body shot - a crunching short left - Mack remained doubled over on the canvas for the duration of the referee's count of 10 and Froch stood victorious for the 30th time in his career.

The win sets Froch on course for his plans to fight three previous opponents once again - Bute and the only two men to defeat the Englishman in 10 years as a pro, Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward.

The victorious Froch said: "I was kept waiting a bit before we came out here, but the extra 10-15 minute warm-up was good. I found my range and I did what I had to do.

"I've trained for 12 weeks for a possible rematch with Bute, Ward, Kessler ... so Mack didn't stand a chance. I always turn up in A-level conditions so if anyone turns up under-prepared, that is what will happen to them.

"At 35 I'm still improving. I'm always improving because I'm always learning."

Beneath the Froch main event, fellow Brit Tony Bellew added further credibility to his aspirations for a second world title shot by surviving a heavy cut above his right eye to defeat Argentina's Roberto Bolonti via unanimous decision.

The 29-year-old from Liverpool outclassed the rugged spoiler from the opening bell and scored knockdowns in rounds one and three, but upon attempting to follow-up on the second of the two was caught by a counter-strike which opened up a nasty split on his eyebrow.

There were genuine fears that the one-sided contest would be stopped by the referee or a doctor as a win for the Argentine, but by round eight the cut was well protected by a more cautious Bellew gameplan and the excellent work of his cut man, Mick Williamson.

After a quiet second half of the fight, Bellew was ruled the victor by all twelve rounds and two knockdowns by two judges, with the other giving Bolonti a solitary round.

The "Bomber" now boasts a record of 19-1 while Bolonti moves onto 30-2.

Bellew enters the world top ten of light heavyweight boxers with the win as well as collecting the WBC "silver" title, which should ensure his next bout is a final eliminator for another world title match after dropping a majority decision to Wales' Nathan Cleverly last year.

"When I got cut I had to take my foot off the pedal a bit because I was going in for the kill early before that," said Bellew after the fight. "Bolonti is tough and his chin is so far back it's like a giraffe!

"I've got the best cut man in the game in Mick Williamson and by not panicking I got through a potentially huge crisis."

On the televised undercard, Khalid Yafai of Birmingham stopped Italy's Pio Antonio Nettuno in just 52 seconds with a barrage of Froch-like body abuse to move to 5-0 with four knockouts, before fellow new professional Scotty Cardle went the distance in his first eight-round contest as he whitewashed Miguel Aguilar of Nicaragua with two knockdowns.

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