Mormeck Decisions Bell
LEVALLOIS-PERRET, France—If cruiserweight titans Jean-Marc Mormeck and O’Neil “Supernova” Bell have taught us anything in their two meetings in just over 14 months, it’s probably that they would exchange power shots toe to toe from bell to bell if they fought each other 10 times in a row.
Article posted on 18.03.2007
The difference on Saturday was Mormeck was able to weather Bell’s late surge to finish the fight and win a close, unanimous decision in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 4,000 at the Palais des Sports Marcel Cerdan in Levallois-Perret, France. The Frenchman won back the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association cruiserweight titles he surrendered to Bell in their first fight. Mormeck (33-3, 22 KOs), from Point-a-Pitre, Guadalupe, France, now residing in Rosny-sous-Bois, had been the first French fighter to become a unified world champion, and he said he felt tremendous pressure attempting to regain the titles in his home country.
“I felt the whole country of France on my shoulders going into this fight,” Mormeck said, “but it helped me. I was fighting for them tonight. We were in it together. I couldn’t let them down.”
Saturday’s match resembled the first fight in many ways as Mormeck built an early lead by staying busy and landing power shots. While he faded at Madison Square Garden in what became a “Fight of the Year” (and “Round of the Year”) nominee that took place on Jan. 7, 2006, Mormeck was able to box his way to a win in the later rounds when Bell asserted himself most strongly.
Bell had commented at the weigh in on Friday that Mormeck looked like he had trained harder for the rematch by the looks of his physique, and Mormeck came out aggressively from the opening bell.
Bell tried to establish his jab and often followed with one-two combinations while Mormeck—just as he had done in the first fight—landed power shots, including four tremendous right hands in the opening stanza.
Mormeck added an uppercut, some left hooks and body shots in the second round. Bell tried to answer but Mormeck landed the harder shots.
Bell landed an uppercut of his own in the third round before Mormeck fell to the canvas at 2:15 into the round from a low blow. When the action resumed after a one minute break, Mormeck showered a vicious assault on Bell that, ironically, may be best remembered for the fact that Bell didn’t go down.
The non-stop action continued in round four as Bell attempted to counter Mormeck’s power shots, but the Frenchman seemed unwilling to lose exchanges in the early going of this seesaw battle.
The brisk pace slowed a bit in the beginning of the fifth round before the staggering blows returned. Seeking ways to break Mormeck down, Bell even acted like he was hurt near the end of the round to only try to gain an advantage by exploding with combinations.
Bell had his best round of the fight in the sixth. The referee warned Mormeck for punching in the back of the head at 1:40 into the round. Bell then deployed a rope-a-dope strategy in an attempt to get Mormeck to exhaust his seemingly boundless energy.
The tactic worked wonders for Bell, who appeared to have Mormeck on the verge of a knockdown before the bell sounded ending the round.
Bell tried to keep his momentum rolling into the seventh, and a referee’s warning to Mormeck for hitting behind the head seemed to encourage him. Bell used more rope-a-dope before returning to the center of the ring for more brawling.
Bell responded to a belt-line shot in the eighth round with a delayed-response pratfall, apparently mocking Mormeck’s low-blow fall to the canvas in the third round.
Mormeck sensed or learned from the open scoring announcements spoken in French on the public address system that he had built a sizeable lead going into the ninth round.
Bell knocked a fading Mormeck out in the 10th round in their first fight, and Mormeck made a deft decision to box more and conserve energy for the championship rounds.
Mormeck lowered his punch output and displayed boxing skills in the closing rounds while Bell wanted to continue brawling to pick up some desperately needed rounds from the judges.
In the end, Bell’s rally came a few rounds too late. All three judges scored the fight for Mormeck by scores of 116-112 and 115-113, twice.
Bell (26-2-1, 24 KOs), from Jamaica now fighting out of Atlanta, did not agree with the decision.
“Mormeck is a monster in the ring,” Bell said. “I spared him the knockout this time but I think I did enough to win.
“I am disappointed by this decision. I thought I won every round. I am appalled by the judges. He never hurt me.
“I’ve been off for 14 months and my promoter Warriors Boxing needs to answer for that.”
Bell prowled the dressing room hallways looking for Mormeck after the fight, and he stormed into the post-fight press conference with his anger festering while he waited for the Frenchman to arrive.
After Mormeck commented on the fight, he responded to a reporter’s question by saying, “I don’t like O’Neil Bell.” Before the translator could say, “but I do have tremendous respect for him as a fighter,” Bell rushed toward Mormeck and a brief melee broke out that promoter Don King would later characterize as “deplorable after such a great match took place.”
The victor was understandingly more positive in his comments.
“Bell was in good shape,” Mormeck said. “He always has surprises for me and tonight was no different. He was still standing after 12 rounds.
“I do not respect him as a person but I do have tremendous respect for him as a fighter.”
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