Former two-weight world champion Buddy McGirt says that Tony Bellew could crumble under the pressure of the hometown crowd when he faces Isaac Chilemba on Saturday night (March 30) in an official final eliminator for the WBC light heavyweight title in Betfair’s ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, live on Sky Sports.
McGirt, who leads Chilemba into his second fight as his trainer, believes his 25 year-old Malawian dangerman will rise to the occasion on Merseyside and that the 29 year-old Scouser will find it hard to deal with the expectation on him in front of a passionate Liverpool crowd.
“I commend Tony on taking the fight with Isaac because it's the toughest he could've taken,” said McGirt, who claimed world honours at light-welterweight and welterweight in his fantastic career.
“There are easier fights out there for him, but I love it when the best step up to face the best, respect to him for that – but Isaac is one hell of a fighter and he’ll see that on Saturday night.
“When you fight away from home there is less pressure on you, it's all on the guy who is in front of his own crowd. Tony's the one who has to go and impress everyone, not Isaac - there's no pressure on him, no expectations so he can relax and do his thing. The guy that lives here has to live up to the expectations of the crowd and that can be big. It is better for us that the fight is in Liverpool rather than back in America.”
Since settling at light-heavyweight after a draw with Thomas Oosthuizen in November 2010, Chilemba has found his feet at the weight eye-catching wins over Edison Miranda, Vikapita Meroro and Rayco Saunders, and McGirt is delighted with the Malawian puncher and says he is ready for victory on Saturday.
“He's a very good listener, good technically and he knows when to put it all together,” said McGirt. “He's a very good boxer with good hand speed, but above all he listens and learns every day.
“We've been here since Thursday and Isaac is in tremendous shape. Everything is good and we have no complaints, he is ready to go.”
Bellew and Chilemba’s clash tops the bill with the chief support provided by the fight of the year rematch between Derry Mathews and Anthony Crolla, who clash for the vacant Commonwealth lightweight title. Rocky Fielding defends his English super middleweight title against Wayne Reed while Olympic captain Thomas Stalker boxes in his hometown for the first time as a pro.
Unbeaten Liverpool starlet Jazza Dickens faces Jon Fernandes for the vacant super bantamweight title, while Stalker’s fellow former Team GB members Kal Yafai, Callum Smith and Scotty Cardle continue their pro journeys.
Tickets for Betfair’s ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ at the Liverpool Echo Arena on March 30 are on sale now priced £30, £40 and £60 from the Echo Arena on 0844 8000 400 and www.echoarena.com.
£100 ringside and £150 VIP tickets are available from Matchroom Boxing on 01277 359900 and at www.matchroomboxing.com.