Fabio Wardley hopes his stoppage of David Adeleye on Saturday night convinced his detractors that he is a legitimate heavyweight contender.
England’s Wardley realizes that he isn’t a completely polished product and has room to improve. But beating the previously undefeated Adeleye by seventh-round technical knockout provided just the type of statement Wardley wanted to make on the Tyson Fury-Francis Ngannou undercard at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“I’m smart,” Wardley told TNT Sports’ Steve Bunce in the ring after his impressive victory. “Everyone tags this white-collar name on me. I’ve dropped that. I’ve shredded that off, and look, I’m beating high-level amateurs over and over again. Like I don’t know what more you want from me to prove that I’m a serious contender in this game.”
The 6-foot-5, 241-pound Wardley is ranked 11th by the WBA and 15th by the IBF, but likely will move up in those ratings after defeating Adeleye. He also could enter the WBO’s top 15 when its next ratings are released because Adeleye is ranked ninth by that sanctioning organization.
Ipswich’s Wardley was already in control when he landed a left hook that knocked London’s Adeleye flat on his back with 51 seconds remaining in the seventh round of their scheduled 12-rounder. A staggered Adeleye barely beat referee John Latham’s count.
Adeleye couldn’t keep an aggressive Wardley from landing clean punches once the action resumed, which led to Latham stepping between them to halt the action at 2:43 of the seventh round.
“Yeah, the difference in experience,” Wardley said of what won him the fight. “I knew what to do in some situations that didn’t go my way. I knew what to do as the rounds go on. I wasn’t even counting ‘em. I felt good. I was punching through the rounds. I was on form. That’s probably the best I’ve felt.”
The 28-year-old Wardley (17-0, 16 KOs) displayed patience against the 26-year-old Adeleye (12-1, 11 KOs), who was aggressive at times during what was considered a step up in competition for the fourth-year professional.
“I knew that’s how he was gonna come out,” Wardley said. “He was trying to goad me, thinking I’m gonna come firing forward. Look, I do that when I have to. But I’ve got boxing IQ. I’m smart. I know what to do in that ring. I know how to lead someone in. I know how to draw someone in, and that’s exactly what I did there.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.