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Interview: “Give ‘Em Hell” Rings Harmon’s Bell in 8

Dec 20, 2003  By Ed Ludwig
The number one ranked WBC Cruiserweight contender O’Neil Bell (22-1-1 21 KO’S) closed the show in impressive fashion against Derrick Harmon (23-5 11 KO’s) Friday night scoring an eighth round TKO. This paves the way for an eventual Bell vs. Wayne Braithwaite world title fight in early 2004. Bell had no qualms risking his mandatory against Harmon whereas he could have easily just sat down and waited for his opportunity against Braithwaite. Props go to Bell for taking the fight with Harmon who is no slouch and a seasoned veteran. The Cruiserweight division is starting to take off for the first time in many years and the hardcore boxing fans are taking notice and O’Neil Bell is one who deserves a lot of credit. Bell and his counterpart Braithwaite are the subjects of discussion on the various boxing message boards and for good reason. There is no doubt in my mind that the momentum won’t carry on in 2004 and beyond so expect to be treated to many great fights in the coming year. I would like to thank the NABF/USBA Cruiserweight champion O’Neil Bell for taking the time to share his post fight thoughts with Doghouse Boxing.

Ed Ludwig: Congratulations on your impressive victory over Derrick Harmon. Did everything go according to plan?

O’Neil Bell: The timing was a little bit unexpected. Everything went according to plan as for breaking him down as I asserted my dominance and used my weight advantage. I was kind of expecting to take Harmon out in the fourth round but he was more durable then I expected. As the fight progressed I knew I was wearing him out and I knew I was going to get him in the later rounds. I didn’t get excited or upset when the fight went longer then I had planned.

What was the turning point in the fight and when did you know you had him?

When I started going to the body. I believe Teddy Atlas said “If Bell starts going to the body more he would find that more effective” and that triggered in my mind during the fight that I need to start going to the body because Harmon hit me a couple of times to the body and I came back and he would stumble back so I saw that as the turning point, he faded out and I was able to land some of my crispier, sharper shots towards the end that connected like my left-right, left-right and that took him down and finished him off.

Was Harmon able to land any effective shots that got your attention or hurt you at all?

Not effectively, I was aware of what he was doing. He had a nice jab and he did catch me with a good straight left hand and then I adjusted to that because I knew what I was doing wrong. I wasn’t moving my head and basically walking to him as a standing target as opposed to a moving target. Once I started going to the body and dip in, dip out I was able to be more effective with it and capitalize on his punches. I was trying to counter his shots after that point.

How did Harmon look to you competing at Cruiserweight?

He looked the same to me as when he fought as a Light Heavyweight. He had good power, not a one punch hitter. I was able to come in from where I wanted right up until round eight and assert myself on him.

Did Harmon say anything to you following the fight?

We talked briefly afterwards and even at the hotel. I have to give him his props before and after the fight. He is a world-class gentleman but we didn’t say too much. We embraced each other and hopefully when I see him again we can shake hands and be friends, closer friends.

How was the atmosphere at the arena last night leading up to the main event?

Everyone was pumped up and I could tell that one of my corner-men was nervous because “there is one guy standing in the way of greatness” he told me. I was relaxed because I didn’t want the pressure on me but I know he was trying to get me focused and ready so I kind of liked that in a sense too. I was trying to make a statement to the division and especially ESPN being that the budget cuts that everyone is faced with and boxing being in limbo according to ESPN that I needed to bring boxing back into the limelight and show some excitement so the viewers could have something to watch and enjoy.

Prior to Harmon who was the last southpaw you faced?

It was Jason Robinson about three years ago. Getting ready for the Harmon fight I sparred with a lot of southpaws including Robert Allen and Kippy Warren so I was always accustomed to fighting a southpaw although it has been awhile.

A bit of a strange question for you, how do you feel the morning after a fight?

Right now I’m just trying to figure my body out. I want to sleep then I lay down and I can’t sleep so I just have to let my body calm itself down. I was in training for a month and a half then the fight last night and I have all these thoughts running through my head like with what I did wrong, what I did right so it will take me a few days to calm down and relax. I have been running on adrenaline and I was up late with my trainers talking about the fight until six in the morning then I had to catch my flight at seven this morning.

What are your plans over the next few days now that you have a little time off?

Right now I’m going to enjoy a few days off and visit my parents, go home, eat and get fat for a couple of weeks (laughs!) and then I will get back into the gym as I want to get ready for Braithwaite. I want to be fully prepared for him. We are scheduled to meet in late March with a site yet to be chosen but we will fight no later than March. A letter of intent has been signed and for now I’ll relax and watch the tape of my fight and look at what I need to improve on and what I did well and soak up the victory.

I want to thank you kindly for your post fight comments and if you have any thoughts you would like to share with your fans following your big win last night please do.

I am an up and coming Cruiserweight star. I am going down the line, first Braithwaite then Mormeck and Nelson if he wants to bring his butt out here then the eventual IBF champion. I am hungry and ready and when the opportunity knocks I will be there.

For more information on O’Neil Bell please visit

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