When Lanell “KO” Bellows entered the ring against DeCarlo Perez last September, it was supposed to be a major stepping stone in his career.
The tough Perez (15-5-1), who scored a surprise upset over then-undefeated Juan Ubaldo Cabrera the year before, was just the opponent to get his phone ringing with better offers.
Then came what often happens in the boxing ring: The judges. While most onlookers felt Bellows had done enough to score a unanimous decision, the scorekeepers ringside found for Perez by split decision victory.
Bellows had been on a roll coming into the Perez fight, with a 16-1-1 record and 10 straight victories. He was ready for the step up and the benefits of what would come after.
Boxing isn’t easy though. If you leave a man on his feet at the end of a bout, anything can happen.
Bellows knows this. And while the result was a disappointment, it was hardly devastating. You see, he has known tougher times. Raised on the hard streets of Compton, California, he saw his share of danger coming up. Many a time he had to defend himself with his fists for reasons not of his choosing.
He credits a large and loving family for helping him avoid the pitfalls of his environment. Make no mistake, while Bellows now lives in Las Vegas for career reasons, Compton is his still his home and an object of great affection.
Bellows entered his boxing career late. Making his pro debut at 27 after only 33 amateur fights, including the quarterfinals of the 2012 Olympic trials. Told that his puncher/boxer style would likely play better in the pros, Bellows did just that.
In 2012, he left the Richard Steele gym and joined the Mayweather team. A sparring session with Floyd Jr. himself convinced the “Money Man” that Bellows was a worthy investment, and he’s been on the TMT squad ever since.
His late start and light amateur background created a learn-on-the-job environment, but his hard work, dedication, and natural aptitude for the sport has positioned him to make a move, despite the loss to Perez. Bellows learned a lot from that fight and feels ready for the push ahead.
Now 31, Bellows feels some sense of urgency to make a big move in the next two years, one that he hopes culminates in a title shot at the super middleweight level. To that end, TMT set a 4/29 date for his next fight.
Just one catch. Until Friday, Bellows had no idea who his opponent would be. When we spoke, he believed it was going to be Andrew Hernandez (18-5-1). By the evening, Bellows learned he would be facing Thomas Awimbono (25-7-1).
I asked Bellows if not knowing his opponent so close to fight night was a detriment. The unflappable fighter said no. He spends all year getting ready for whoever might be on the other end of the phone when it rings.
On April 29th, that will be Thomas Awimbono, a tough fighter from Ghana who has never been knocked out. I asked Bellows if he was going to try to change that statistic, and while he wants the knockout, he’s willing to adjust to the man in front of him. What he most wants is to deliver a dominating performance that gets his name into new conversations about bigger and better fights.
That was supposed to happen with the Perez fight. Now he gets another chance. He’s a grinder. As hard working a fighter as there is in the sport. He’s full of great will and a deep spirit. He’s also an incredibly likable guy who loves nothing more than his family, especially his two boys, his pit bull Ghost, and the sweet science itself.
He’s an easy guy to root for. He’s close to getting his shot. On April 29, he will try to leap the hurdle he thought he had cleared against Perez when the cards came in against him. A big win on Saturday and maybe the conversation around Lanell Bellows changes.
No one would deserve it more.