UPDATE: Lanell Bellows got 'er done on Saturday, as he promised. He beat Codale Ford by UD, and rose to 9-1-1. “I rate my performance a 6,” Bellows said. “It was a solid performance, but there were many tools I possess that I didn't implement. I controlled the fight, but should have done more. I'll definitely go back to the drawing board and make the adjustments that need to be made so I come back stronger and better for my next fight.”
Sorry, but I'm not really sorry, because I think it is important to iterate, and re-iterate, and hammer home the point that the sport of boxing doesn't exist merely as a sport to entertain blood-lusty cretins, but in fact, in so, so many cases, it exists as a lifeline for the participants.
I can't say for certain where Lanell Bellows, who fights on Saturday night against Codale Ford at the Palms in Las Vegas, would be if not for boxing giving him a reason to be, and a structure around which to stabilize his life….but chances are decent that he'd be in the weeds. Or worse...
The Las Vegas resident, who sports an 8-1-1 record, and fights under the MayweatherPromotions banner as a super middleweight, was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He was moved at age 16 months to California, and had his worldview fashioned in a couple regions, including Compton, and Palmdale, both in Los Angeles County.
"I learned life lessons, good and bad," he told me in a phoner, which he completed after a workout at the Mayweather Boxing Club. His mom showed him love and attention, and his step-dad, and his dad, and siblings had their share of serene and joyful times. But that street, those highs you get from testing the line, stepping over it, also affected him.
"I took up boxing late," he said. "22. In Southern California, you have gangs and stuff, and I was part of that scene. I was always fighting. (Aside from step-siblings), I was an only child, so that fed the urge to fight."
He and buddies used to slide on gloves, spar in the street, to keep sharp. Keep sharp for what? For when beefs would pop up. For when words were exchanged, or a slight was noted, and the next step was taken. And the next step often meant fist-fighting. And yes, the step after the fist-fight, no shocking epiphany here, could indeed be an escalation, to firearms. You get the previous point about where Bellows could be if not for the ring a bit better now, I hope.
Let's not dance around the issue. He could be dead.
But he's not; he's striving, and is regarded as the hardest-working prospect in the Mayweather crew. "I can't make up the experience of someone who has been fighting since age seven, or whatever," he said. "But I am the first one to the gym and usually the last one to leave, so whenever the time does come (to step up big), I will be ready."
"As far as being the hardest working (in the Mayweather Promotions gang), I definitely hear it all the time, the work ethic, I take pride in." Trainers Rafael Ramos and Mike Leonardi, and strength and conditioning coach Bob Weir can point to him as being a role model, for sure.
Some of the attitude, the cold stare, the intensity which promises a violent ending for a foe which people saw in Compton from Bellows is something he hasn't ditched.
"It was, if you're willing to go with me, you have to think I'm willing to GO THERE. It's survival. Am I cold now? Boxing is about feeding my family. I take a similar attitude. I refuse to lose. It's survival on a daily basis. But minus the petty street stuff."
You'll note that in fact he does have a loss and a draw on his ledger, so, like all of us, occasionally despite exemplary prep and intentions, he has lost. The draw came against 5-6-1 Roberto Yong in February 2013; Bellows says he learned from that scrap, which was a swing bout, and had him losing focus and energy when he warmed up and then cooled down about four times when he finally fought after ten PM, after coming to the building at 4-ish.
The loss, to 8-9-2 Eddie Hunter last in December 2013, taught him to be that much more conclusive when fighting at the other guys' home turf, finish the job, via KO, and by incontrovertible decision.
He has also picked up some wisdom from Floyd, who he says is hands on, is open and accessible and generous to the pack of strivers looking to get to the echelon of sport the boss has enjoyed for almost 20 years. "If you want to talk to Floyd, it's not like you have to go through three, four people. You just talk to him. He treats us good."
As for the 4-3 Ford, Bellows says he's nothing he hasn't seen. "It's nothing I haven't trained for. If I properly make the adjustments I need to then…let's put it this way, he has been stopped once? I plan on making it twice."
Cliche alert: even if this guy doesn't go on to do what he plans, fight maybe for some kind of title by the end of next year, I dare say he's succeeded. His two boys, Lannell (9) and Lavelle (5) can look at him and be proud that he is striving so hard. They don't have to know that it is maybe a minor miracle that he's not a casualty of the gang life…
"I'm happy because nobody thought I'd get this far," Bellows said, in closing. "I'm already winning. My message is, to fans and everyone, there's a long ride ahead of us. I'm a great driver, so don't worry, we'll get to our destination."
Who Should Floyd Mayweather fight next: