Fabio Wardley scored the sixteenth stoppage of his career, dropping David Adeleye hard and forcing the referee to wave it off to retain the British Heavyweight Title.
The initial press conference brawl back in September – whilst a bad look – helped hype the fight to new levels. It acted as chief support to Tyson Fury’s crossover contest with Francis Ngannou, thus being likely the final ‘proper’ boxing contest of the night.
It also potentially gave Adeleye the upper-hand, with the cut on Wardley’s chin reportedly deep enough and requiring that many stitches that his final preparations, including sparring, were altered significantly. There was the opportunity of a cut opening early.
Still, the champion entered the ring the slight favourite with the bookmakers. Both undefeated, both with power and impressive knockouts on their highlight reels, it was yet another instalment of the well-regarded British Heavyweight Title.
Wardley has shown a dangerous but extremely watchable style in the past, almost only waking up and going all out when he tastes his own blood. The question was could Adeleye put a dent in him before that instinct took over? Neither fighter had been past six rounds.
Adeleye christened the bout with a stiff jab. Wardley looked to get some work off to the body, using nice feints to find his way in. Adeleye landed a cracker of a left hook towards the end of the first which forced the champ to take a step back.
Good, ramrod jabs from Adeleye punctuated the second round alongside clinches. Wardley – who was controlling the distance the better of the two – landed a couple of statement straight rights to catch the eyes of the judges in the final thirty seconds.
He brought that same energy into the third before Adeleye was warned for using his forearms and elbows in the clinch. Things were heating up nicely, with the busier Wardley just managing to control most of the action but Adeleye always on the verge of turning the tables with a big winging shot.
The champion scored well with his jab in the fourth and fifth, Adeleye taking on the role of looking for one big shot in return – and he came close when Wardley neglected his defence. A trade-off at the end of the fifth was unnecessary risk on his part, and the momentum came with Adeleye into the sixth via a good body shot and left hook.
Wardley managed to take it back towards the end, bloodying his opponent and turning the screw. There was an argument at the halfway stage to have him moving well ahead with the scores.
He wouldn’t need those cards. A huge left hook following by a right sent Adeleye down heavy. A lovely two-punch combination. Adeleye cracked his trademark smile on the canvas – the first time he’s touched it in his career so far – and made the count, but was struggling on his feet.
One last flurry was no use for him, and the referee stopped it. Adeleye was furious, even landing a very soft body shot on poor official.
— Boxing on TNT Sports (@boxingontnt) October 28, 2023
Wardley retained like he said he would – a commanding performance with some dangerous but exciting flaws. Bring on Frazer Clarke.