Lanell Bellows Embraces the Underdog Label

Lanell Bellows isn’t supposed to be here. Hell, considering where he grew up on the tough streets of Compton, you could argue he’s fortunate to be anywhere. As an only child living in an area where gang-related activity was the norm, Lanell had to learn to be a fighter. There was no big brother or any siblings to look over his shoulder or steer him in the right direction. As Lanell told me, “self-defense was a must. I didn’t learn it through boxing, I learned it through hands-on training.”

Lanell Bellows (seen above, landing, in Team Bellows photo) had to manage these hard knocks on his own. And so he did.

Always a fan of the fight game (he speaks of Tyson, Ali, and Hagler with reverence), it was not until he reached the ripe age of 22 that he actually stumbled into a boxing gym after moving to Las Vegas. I guess you could say he never really left. He took to the science and strategy of the sport right away. He was in love.

Lanell believes when it comes to boxing, “You get what you put in. You are responsible for your own actions in this sport.” The only child in Lanell was drawn to the idea of it being “all on my shoulders. I can be the reason for my own reward.”

His short amateur career resulted in a quarterfinal finish in the Nationals to make the USA Olympic team in 2011. Lanell (12-1-1; age 29) got one more shot at making the team later that year in Mobile, Alabama and fell just short. Still, considering he had been fighting on mostly heart and brute strength, his results were exceptional and surprising. Especially to Lanell himself, who began to think this could be a career.

Having scrambled for pro fights on his own, since debuting in 2012, he knew at some point he would have to step up into a bigger gym to forward his career. That’s when he left the Richard Steele gym and joined the Mayweather Boxing Club. He quickly earned a reputation as one of the hardest workers in the gym, garnering the notice of Floyd Mayweather Jr. himself, who asked Lanell to spar with him when he was training for the Cotto fight, which occured in May 2012.

Lanell held his own against the slick moving champion and Floyd took note. At the end of their session, the champ threw his arm around Bellows and said, “you’re with me now, I’m going to take care of you.” The door to Mayweather Promotions had just opened and Lanell eagerly walked through it.

So Lanell began to fight under the TMT banner. Having come to boxing late and having fought just 33 times as an amateur, Bellows experienced some early struggles. A split draw against Roberto Yong that saw the newcomer hit the canvas for the first time was followed by a majority decision loss to the veteran Eddie Hunter four fights later. Lanell took these results personally and decided going forward, he would never leave it in the judge’s hands again or at least make sure his performances would be too decisive for them to be ruled as anything other than victories on his ledger. The question he asked himself was: “what must I do to never feel this way again?”

Early career setbacks like these could discourage a fighter from going forward or at least reduce their heart for the game. Not so with Bellows. Lanell looked at those two results as opportunities to learn and gain experience. He may be 29 now, but he still feels young as a fighter. He puts in his work and has quickly become a student of the game. He’s still learning about himself and what he has to offer. As he told me, “I’m still figuring out how talented I am.”

Since that loss, Lanell has rolled off six consecutive wins, culminating with a clear unanimous decision victory in a rematch with Hunter. Bellows did not consider it his greatest performance, but it was his first time going 8 rounds and he finished the fight feeling fresh and held dominant results on the scorecards (2 of the 3 judges gave him every round).

I asked Lanell if he feels a sense of urgency to make his mark having come to boxing late and having only 14 pro fights under his belt. His reply slightly surprised me. “There’s no sense of urgency,” Lanell said. He pointed out that he is still only 29 and due to his late start he has not suffered the “wear and tear” other fighters have at his age. What Lanell may have to make up for in experience, he does not need to add in health and conditioning.

Known as one of the hardest workers in the Mayweather Camp (some would say “THE” hardest worker), Lanell puts in the hours and training and does so with great rigor and commitment. This is a man who knows himself. He is aware of what he needs to learn, the work that he must do, and the priorities he needs to set. He referred to himself as “humble, but hungry.” He wants to get everything he can out of the sport while he’s in it and with the shape he’s in and the accelerated pace of his learning curve, he appears to be on the right track.

It’s common in this sport we love to think of most fighters as tough guys who may not be the most likable people. From those looking on from just outside the sport, the opinion is often worse than that. Either way, it would be hard to spend any time with Lanell Bellows and not be charmed by his gravelly Iversonesque voice which exudes decency, his patience and willingness to be open, and the warm way he speaks of his children. Lanell’s motto is F.O.E., Family Over Everything.

When not training or in the ring, Lanell enjoys nothing more than hanging at the homestead with his two boys and watching movies with them. I could feel him light up when discussing his two boys Lanell Jr., and Lavell. He’s a young man who adores his mother, who visits him frequently, and loves those tough California streets he grew up on.

Don’t think he’s soft though. As Lanell told me, “I’m chill out of the ring, but I’m an animal in it.” He’s a puncher/boxer known as “Mr. Knocc Out,” and that’s what he’s coming to do. That family around him doesn’t sap his strength. It adds to it. He knows just what he’s fighting for.

Lanell has big goals. He was once a young man who put on boxing gloves and sparred with his friends in the front yard, never thinking more would come from it than that. Now he wants to be the super middle weight champion. He’s aware that his background in the sport makes him the underdog. It’s not a label he runs from, it’s one he embraces. The thing about Underdog is he was an overachiever. So is Lanell Bellows. That glove just fits.

Lanell Bellows fights next June 20th, on the undercard of the Adrien Broner-Sean Porter fight.

You can follow Lanell on Twitter: @lanellbellows, Facebook: Lanell Bellows, and Instagram: KO Bellows



-Radam G :

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