Liam Dillon vs. Reece Bellotti Weigh-in Video
DILLON: “I WANTED TO DO A TRADITONAL ROUTE”
British Super-Feather champ faces ‘Bomber’ Bellotti live on DAZN
British Super-Featherweight Champion Liam Dillon has a chance to add the Commonwealth Title to his growing collection of belts when he faces a resurgent Reece Bellotti at the top of a Matchroom NXTGEN card at Indigo at The O2 this Saturday February 10, live worldwide on DAZN.
Chingford’s Dillon (13-0-1, 3 KOs), a former Southern Area and English Champion at 130lbs, claimed the vacant British Title via an all-action split decision win against Qais Ashfaq in Newcastle last July – dedicating the career-best win to his late sister Lauren.
Now the 28-year-old, who train’s out of RJ’s Boxing Gym in Brentwood under the guidance of Ross Pearce, gets the opportunity to headline a Eddie Hearn-promoted card against one of his “favourite fighters” – with the opportunity to collect the fourth title of his pro career since turning over in April 2017.
“I wanted to do the traditional route,” said Dillon. “I didn’t really want to skip belts. I think boxing is just about climbing the corporate ladder. I won the Southern Area, what’s next? English. Won the English then I got a Commonwealth Eliminator. Then that earned me a shot at the British Title. Now I’m getting the Commonwealth, so yeah it has been the traditional route. They’re the four main belts you want to win first before you start pushing on to International or World Titles.
“I’m mentally and physically in the best shape of my life. I can’t wait for this now; it’s a massive opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it. Winning the British Title was always my boyhood dream. They were always the best fights growing up. To unify it with the Commonwealth is even bigger, especially because I had such a hard fight in a Commonwealth Title Eliminator before I won the British.
“Reece was one of my favourite fighters growing up. I remember doing an interview years ago and I remember saying that Reece Bellotti was my favourite domestic fighter. He’s had a few losses but he still probably is one of my favourite fighters. He comes to fight, he gives it a go, he’s on a really good streak at the moment so that’s just really spurred me on more. To be at the Indigo at The O2 with all of my fans, I just can’t wait to put on a show. I think it’s going to be a great fight.”
Watford’s Bellotti (17-5, 14 KOs) is enjoying a three-fight winning streak across 2022 and 2023, with the ‘Bomber’ picking up the vacant Commonwealth Super-Featherweight Title last time out at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool by stopping Aqib Fiaz in eight rounds – the Oldham fighter’s first professional loss.
Dillon knows that he will have to be at his very best if he is to avoid a similar fate to Fiaz, and the respectful East Londoner says he is prepared to do whatever it takes to get his hand raised after what he predicts will be the toughest test of his promising career to date.
“I don’t know what he’s going to do,” said Dillon. “I feel like he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve for me. I’m just going to go for it – do what I do best. I find I fight better when I’m enjoying myself so there’s no point trying to do something that I don’t enjoy doing. I might as well just go in there and have a fight and if he does the same then he does the same and I think it will be great for everyone to watch.
“I think the British Title is a belt everyone wants. I don’t know if it’s going to be his last chance to win it, that’s not my position to say. He’s had a shot at the British before, he fell short. I remember watching that fight and thinking he might have nicked it – I think it was a split decision loss. He’s earned the shot again, he has definitely earned it as well coming off three massive wins. I know he’s going to give it all he’s got. Same here.
“He’s mandatory for the British and I’m mandatory for the Commonwealth. I’m the man in the way of what he wants and he’s the man in the way of what I want. I’m used to fighters punching hard. I’ve always been quite tough. I respect everyone’s power. He’s got a dig on him and he’s shown it – he’s got a high knockout ratio.
“I just concentrate on the man in front of me. I see it being a hard fight. I have no doubt that Reece is going to give me the hardest fight of my career. He’s experienced, he has punch power – I think he’s going to give me my hardest fight. Whatever I’ve got to do to get my hand raised, I’ll do it.”
Dillon vs. Bellotti headlines Matchroom’s latest NXTGEN card, exciting 21-year-old Cameron Vuong (3-0, 2 KOs) gets a fourth pro outing against the experienced Ishmael Ellis (14-7) over eight rounds at Lightweight, Crystal Palace Light-Heavyweight contender Craig Richards (17-3-1, 10 KOs) makes his long-awaited return to the ring in a ten-round contest with Glasgow’s Boris Crighton (12-4, 7 KOs), rising Watford Super-Flyweight star Shannon Ryan (6-0) faces Wakefield’s Jasmina Zapotoczna (6-0) for the WBA International Title, Takeley Cruiserweight John Hedges (8-0, 2 KOs) meets Germany’s Erdogan Kadrija (20-5, 12 KOs) over eight rounds, Greenwich Middleweight Jack Oliphant makes his professional debut against Swindon’s Jensen Irving (4-5) over four rounds, Birmingham Lightweight Ibraheem Sulaimaan (2-0, 1 KO) looks to maintain his unbeaten start to life in the paid ranks against France’s Jordan Patrick Tomosoni (4-0-1, 1 KO) and German Heavyweight prospect Emmanuel Odiase (1-0, 1 KO) fights for the second time as a pro against Belgium’s Amine Boucetta (8-9).
BELLOTTI: “I’VE ALWAYS WANTED THE BRITISH TITLE”
‘Bomber’ primed for second shot at Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt
Reece Bellotti will be aiming the win the prestigious Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt at the second time of asking when he takes on reigning Super-Featherweight Champion Liam Dillon at the top of Matchroom’s latest NXTGEN card at Indigo at The O2 this Saturday February 10, live worldwide on DAZN.
The Watford favourite (17-5, 14 KOs) challenged Cromer’s Ryan Walsh for the British Featherweight Title on the undercard of Dillian Whyte’s blockbuster rematch with Derek Chisora at The O2 in London in December 2018, falling short after finding himself on the wrong side of a split decision on the judge’s scorecards.
Five years on, the 33-year-old two-time Commonwealth Champion has a second chance to get his hands on the belt that he has dreamt of winning since he was a child – and ‘Bomber’ is predicting a crowd-pleasing barnstormer in the Capital with Chingford’s defending champion Dillon.
“Liam is a good fighter,” said Bellotti. “He’s tough. He’s a very tough man. He’s a come forward fighter. We’re both come forward fighters so it will be a good fight on the night. I can’t wait for it. I’m on the same mindset as him. It’s going to be a great fight for the fans and one for everyone to watch. It’s a fight we’ve always wanted. A fight we’ve always looked forward to. We were ready for the call and took the fight.
“100% this is the most important fight of my career. I’ve always wanted the British Title ever since I was a kid. When I started boxing, the British Title was always the one for me. Obviously I got beat against Ryan Walsh a few years back. I was gutted. Probably at that time I didn’t think I’d ever get another shot again at a British Title. I moved up a weight and now I’ve got my chance again I’ll take it with both hands.”
Following his loss to Walsh, Bellotti bounced back to winning ways against Josue Grandelli before suffering consecutive losses at the hands of Francesco Grandelli, Jordan Gill and Raymond Ford – but the Hertfordshire fighter never lost hope.
His brilliant resurgence started at the famous York Hall in April 2022 where he stopped Dean Dodge in seven rounds to pick up the vacant Southern Area Title. He then outpointed Youssef Khoumari at Wembley Arena the following year before inflicting a first loss on Aqib Fiaz to earn the Commonwealth strap last October.
“I’ve kept a strong mindset all of the time. There will always be bumps in the road. You can always come up against better fighters on the night. It happens quite often, you see it a lot around the world. I always dig deep and I always thought I was going to win more titles. I carried on and I did.
“I’m fully focused on winning the British Title and then pushing on for more belts this year. I’m trying to maximise myself and get as far as I can go. If that’s a potential shot at a World Title, I know it sounds crazy, then that’s what we’ll go for. I’m ready for it.”
DILLON VS. BELLOTTI PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
Frank Smith, Matchroom Boxing CEO:
“This is an unbelievable fight – these two going at it for the British and Commonwealth Titles. It’s what it’s all about. They’re going to go in there at a sold-out Indigo on Saturday night. We wanted to make this fight a while ago. Obviously when it was ordered it was a fight that made a lot of sense to us. Reece coming off the back of a great win, Liam is a tremendous as well. It’s a fight we’re excited for. They’re going to go all out on Saturday night. Whoever gets the win in this fight is moving on to some big nights. I’m excited for this one. We’ve worked with Reece for so many years now – that win against Aqib Fiaz was brilliant. It just shows, he’s waited for this moment for a long time. Liam is a tremendous fighter and the two of them are going to go at it. Everyone who is inside the Indigo is going to be in for a treat. Maybe we’ll see a couple of these.”
“It’s my boyhood dream come true. The best fights were when they unified the British and Commonwealth Titles. I’m looking forward to this and hopefully seeing what the next step is. We’ve got a big stable down at RJ’s. As Reece said the British Title is the one belt that you want to win, so going in there with the British Title and everyone looking at it was great. We’ve got a big stable now and I think there will be a few British Champions down there in the next couple of years. Reece has been around for a long time. He comes to fight. I’m looking forward to a good scrap. I see a Dillon win. I’m going to be victorious.”
“I was after the British Title against Walsh and he obviously beat me, he was a good fighter. Like you say, anyone who starts out in boxing, mainly they want to win the British Title. It’s the best looking belt in boxing and it’s always been a title that I’ve wanted to win. I’ve got the chance Saturday night. My confidence is high, really high. I’ve been written off. I’ve had three back-to-back wins against good fighters. I probably wasn’t expected to win those fights either. I won them in good style. Dillon’s style and my style are bound to gel well and we’ll be in for a great fight. Nobody has gone looking for me yet, so I’m probably not going to change that. Our styles will make for a fan favourite fight.”
“I’d give myself and eight out of ten so far. I think I’ve showed a little bit of everything. My second fight I got a little bit of a telling off in the corner from Jamie, and I showed I can adjust. I’ve had two stoppages in three fights, went the distance obviously in my second fight. I feel I’ve shown a little bit of everything. I’m taking him very seriously. I know that he’s a very tough durable fighter. He’s been in with the likes of Dalton Smith and Harlem Eubank. I know he comes to win. He’s got a winning record and he’s a very tough man so I’m taking him very seriously. I’m 100% focused on Saturday night. I want to be in real fights. I want to be able to showcase my skills and on Saturday night I’ll do just that.”
“We’ll find out on Saturday night if this is a step too far for Cameron this early on in his career. Obviously I’ve got losses on my record and that but like Cameron just said near enough every loss on my record has been to a real big name – Matchroom fighters and everything. I don’t come just to get rolled over or just come to collect the money. I’m coming to fight and win. I think it’s good for Cameron to have someone like me because I’m going to come and put it on him. I’m going to fight, I’m not just going to stand in there and roll over just to make him look good.”
“First of all I just want to say hello everyone. It’s good to be back. Obviously I thank Matchroom, Frank, Eddie and everyone for getting me back which is the most important thing. I might even do my post fight interview when I get in the ring before I fight – that’s just the main thing right now. I just want to get in there and fight right now. It feels good to be back. I want to get back to that World Title mix ASAP. I had that fight with Bivol some while back now. You’ve seen him go on to do great things but I feel like there were certain things I was missing from my game back then. I grown since then, learnt since then and got more experience. I’m not looking past Boris – Boris is a good fighter. My first focus is Saturday night but I’ve got aspirations to be pushing on to big things. I knew that Shane McGuigan would be able to show me more. i didn’t know he had THAT much more to show me. I didn’t know I had that much more ceiling. He’s very good at what he does. He watches what I do and gets the best out of me. He shows me my flaws and my strengths. It’s a work in progress. I’m just taking it step by step.”
“To be honest at this short notice there’s not much that I can do as far as this man is concerned. On the night it’s all going to come down to how much I want it. With ten days’ notice it doesn’t matter how much you prepared or how much you’re not prepared. When you get a phone call it depends how much you want it and how much you want to win. It doesn’t matter what he brings to the table, all that matters is how much I want to win. That’s what matters to me. We play it by ear. You can’t go in there reckless with the level of fighter that he is. You want to take chances but at the same time you want to be calculated with your chances. You want to go in there and fight and put on your best performance – win or lose. He’s a top level professional. It’s like riding a bike – you don’t forget how to throw a jab or forget how to be defensive because you’ve had ten months out or however long you’ve had out. His will to win isn’t going to change because he’s been out of the ring for X amount of time. He’s got everything to lose and everything to prove.”
“If you’ve seen the development of me since I turned pro, it doesn’t even look like I’m the same person. I’ve developed as myself and as a person – filling out naturally. It’s inevitable that I was going to be a Cruiserweight. I’m six foot six and I’m still only 21. The development is still going to carry on, even more so now. I’ve never been so comfortable in sparring and in training. Everything is just clicking in place now. Don’t get me wrong, it has done before, but when things feel right you know yourself don’t you. It’s ten months I’ve been out of the ring now. Activity is the main thing for me. I want to get back fighting regularly. If I could fight every month I would. That’s the main thing. I want to fight as much as I can. I’ve said it from the start – end of the year I want a belt around my waist. I’m not fussed what belt it is. I want to be moving in that direction. I’ve jumped into this fight with them aspirations. I’m not taking on no fool, I’m taking on a good fighter. It puts me in the right place and the right direction. Win at all costs but there’s no pressure.”
“When I first got the call I was obviously disappointed but then to know that I still can fight and there’s a title on the line – Matchroom, Eddie, Frank, 258 – thank you for that opportunity because it’s my first professional title fight and I’m excited for it. What’s going through my mind is that I’m going to put on a good performance and go and get that WBA International belt. I think the 10 rounds will suit me well. When I was doing the eights previously I was cruising through them. The 2 minutes are what we have to do, it’s quite short, it’s quite short – I would like three. I think ten 2’s will suit me perfect. I’m looking forward to it. What do I believe will happen? You’re going to get a spicy performance. I’m still sharp, I’m just super strong right now. My IQ has increased, I’ve improved yet again and I just can’t wait for you all to see pure chaos in the ring.”
“Hello everyone. I was very excited actually. I was like, ‘yeah let’s do this’. Shannon is a good fighter. I think it’s a massive opportunity for me, for us. Yeah, let’s do this. I can’t say too much obviously. I just love boxing. It doesn’t matter to me what skills and what plusses or minuses my opponent has got. I’ve just need to do my job, get in the ring and do whatever I can to win. Let’s put on a show.”
“First of all, what an opportunity to start off on such a big platform. It all feels surreal at the moment. When you’re an amateur all the way through it’s all you ever think about – the first day you turn pro. I’m excited. I’ve got to do a job. I’m going to do what I usually do – I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. I’m going to enjoy myself. As much as I appreciate being here and deserve it, I’m just going to do what I usually do and that’s it.”
“I appreciate the Matchroom team bringing me on these shows and I’m just making the most of it. I’m just enjoying it. I’d give myself a five out of ten if I had to grade myself so far. I’ve got so much to show. I’ve got so much in the locker. The more I turn up the more I can bring out. On Saturday I’ve got an opponent that’s coming to win. He’s got power shots and he’s aggressive. It’s going to bring out the best in me.”
“First of all I would like to say a big thank you to Eddie Hearn, Frank Smith and the Matchroom Boxing team, and to my team at 258 for giving me this opportunity. It’s a great opportunity to have my UK debut over here in London. Matchroom – one of the biggest promotions in the world. ‘AJ’ is a big inspiration – he’s my idol. It felt surreal when I had the chance to spar him in 2021. After that it kind of moved quick, we stayed in touch and stayed in contact the whole time. Now his former coach Joby Clayton is my coach. Honestly I can say I love him because he has always been there for me. He takes the time, I call him and he picks up. He’s my role model and he’s my idol. I’m looking to step in the footsteps of him and achieve big things – become a World Champion one day as well. Maybe do even more than he has done. I’m super excited. The Heavyweight division is the biggest division in boxing.”