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Bloodied Fabio Wardley, Frazer Clarke fight to draw in British heavyweight classic

Bloodied Wardley, Clarke fight to draw in British classic
© Reuters
Fabio Wardley successfully defends his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles after battling his way to a split-draw with Frazer Clarke in London.

Fabio Wardley has hung onto his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles after earning a split-draw against Frazer Clarke in London.

In one of the most memorable domestic heavyweight fights in years, Wardley defied a bloodied - and likely broken - nose and heavily swollen eye to hang onto his unbeaten record.

Although Clarke was floored in the fifth, the former Olympian showed the superior class and there was an argument that he could have edged the fight.

However, the knockdown and a point deduction for a low blow proved decisive as the scorecards read 114-113 to Wardley, 115-112 to Clarke and 113-113.

There will be frustration with both fighters that there was not a conclusive winner, but neither man deserved to lose in what was truly an epic contest.

Clarke started proactively and edged the first, promoting a positive response from Wardley who stunned his opponent with a heavy right, but there was rarely a round where either fighter did not have an argument to nick it.

A pivotal moment came in the fifth when Wardley caught Clarke with a counter right to set him on his way to hitting the canvas for the first time as a professional.

Fabio Wardley floors Frazer Clarke on March 31, 2024.© Reuters

To his credit, though, he rode out the storm that followed and took encouragement from a cut that had opened up down the middle of Wardley's nose and became visibly worse as the fight progressed.

A needless low blow from Clarke early in the second half of the bout kept things in Wardley's favour, but the pair would continue to become embroiled in exchanges where you felt that it was inevitable that another knockdown would follow.

In the back end of the fight, the doctor took a close look at Wardley's nose, allowing him to continue, and the champion rarely took a backward step as he looked to finish the show, aware that he was in danger of being pulled out.

The fight remained in the balance in the 12th before Clarke landed his biggest punch of the night, forcing Wardley to take several steps back onto the ropes, but he would survive, and it was Clarke who hit the canvas shortly after the bell through exhaustion.

There will be calls for a rematch, with the fight undoubtedly selling out any domestic arena should we get a second chapter, yet the pair will now take a well-earned break before deciding their next moves.

On the undercard, Chris Kongo outboxed an ineffective Florian Marku, winning their welterweight contest by scores of 96-94, 96-93 and 98-92 respectively.

Ben Whittaker had to settle for a points win over Leon Willings, who gave the Olympic silver medalist the toughest test of his career thus far, while Alen Babic recorded a sixth-round stoppage over Steve Robinson on the pre-show to put himself back in line for a notable fight later in the year.

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