Bendall Decisions Paul Smith
By Nate Anderson: In a fight that I feel was poorly scored, middleweight Steven Bendall (23-4, 13 KOs) defeated previously unbeaten Paul Smith (23-1, 13 KOs) by a 10-round decision on Saturday night to win the BBBofC English middleweight title at the National Indoor Arena, in Birmingham, West Midlands. Using a punch and an immediate clinch technique, Bendall, 34, slowed the action to a crawl from the opening moments of the fight and turning the fight into a boring stalemate. The referee, however, never penalized Bendall for his constant clinching, although he should because it made the fight all but unwatchable and prevented Smith, 25, from really ever establishing his offense in the fight. Still, even with all the clenching after every punch, I had Smith winning the fight by six rounds to five, although it could have been a little worse than that because he was landing by far the harder shots in every round of the fight.
Bendall, 34, a tall 6’0″ middleweight known more for his losses to Wayne Elcock, Darren Barker, Sebastian Sylvester and Scott Dann, than for anything else he’d achieved in his career, appeared to have studied Smith well. He appeared to know that he was susceptible to a constant punch and grab technique, which is exactly what Bendall set forth doing from the early moments of the fight. Smith, 25, looked totally frustrated and unable to come up with a strategy to counteract all of Bendall’s clinching.
One could hardly blame him, though, for when another fighter intends on grabbing you, there’s not much that can be done about it, unless you get lucky and nail them on their way in or if the referee decides upon doing their job and give warnings. In the latter case, it wasn’t happening on Saturday, which meant that Smith would have to do with what he could with all the clinching.
Smith appeared too easily win rounds one through four using powerful combinations to the body and head. Bendall, however, began to clinch at an alarming rate beginning in round five, throwing a punch and then immediately wrapping Smith up in a tight embrace to prevent him from responding with his own punches. Smith attempted to stay on the outside, but being the shorter fighter, he was susceptible to getting jabbed from the outside.
Bandall wasn’t going to be denied, jabbing and then rushing in and grabbing Smith as if he were chasing a pig down. This effectively shut Smith down completely in the 5th round. The same occurred in rounds six and seven as Bendall was clinching at alarming rate, more than I can ever remember seeing in a middleweight fight. It seemed almost as if he were trying to stall out the fight, limiting the punches exchanged between the two of them and turning it into one big stall in time.
In rounds eight through ten, Smith was able to pry Bendall off his body enough in these rounds to do more than enough to win the rounds. Bendall was cut between the eyes during one of his attempts to clinch, but the cut wasn’t much of a problem. In the 10th round, Smith was cut during another head butt from yet another attempt to clinch by Bendall. However, Smith didn’t let it stop him from letting his hands go as he tagged Bendall with big combinations throughout the round.