Zak Chelli suffered the first defeat of his career in a British light-heavyweight
title eliminator, writes Yann Tear.
He found southpaw Welshman Kody Davies just too strong for him over 10
hard-fought rounds at Bethnal Green’s York Hall, losing a unanimous points verdict, 96-94, 96-93 and 97-92.
Chelli managed to deck his opponent in the second round, counter-attacking with a solid close-quarters combination and connecting to the chin with a smart right uppercut.
But Davies sprang back up immediately and went on to have the better of the contest after coming under pressure in that early passage of the bout.
Davies, given ringside backing from compatriot Joe Calzaghe, has now won all 10 of his pro fights and his power and ring craft were impressive.
He had Chelli bobbing and weaving furiously in the corners, especially in the middle rounds, and the outcome seldom looked in doubt in spite of a brave final round from Chelli. Davies, 25, dedicated the win to his elder sister who died earlier this year.
For 21-year-old Fulham fighter Chelli, the loss ended a previously unblemished record. Four of his seven wins from seven ahead of last weekend’s clash had been won inside the distance.
The young fighter was philosophical about his first setback in the ring.
On Twitter he posted the message: “I have been overwhelmed by the many messages of support from all the people that came to watch my fight at York Hall and the ones that cheered me from home.
“Your words to me mean more than any scoring decision, right or wrong it
“I’ll keep focusing on my plans and play the sport in the only honest way that I know. I’ll keep seeking challenges because that’s what the public deserve and
that’s what they pay for when attending a boxing match.”
Chelli thanked his team, which is led by dad Zak Chelli snr, Barry O’Connell and new manager Aamir Ali. But he has yet to say what he plans next.