Fabio Wardley was left in a bloody mess, but managed to retain his titles in a split draw with Frazer Clarke on Sunday night.

The British heavyweight pair touched gloves at London’s O2 Arena, with both looking to cement themselves as a top contender in the blue-riband division.

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Wardley and Clarke battled away in a thrilling duel

It was the defending champion who dropped Clarke in the fifth round, but the fight went the distance and was decided on the judges’ scorecards.

Wardley did retain his belts however, but was unable to clinch the victory with the judges scoring the contest as a split draw.

The cards read 114-113 in Wardley’s favour, 115-112 in Clarke’s favour and the final 113-113 even card saw the bout end as a draw.

Clarke and Wardley began the fight at a good pace. ‘Big Fraze’ landed the best shot of the opening round and looked bright in the early exchanges.

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The fight burst into life in the second stanza, with Clarke drawing blood from the Ipswich native’s nose after landing some ripping short uppercuts, before the latter closed the round by stunning his rival briefly with a crisp right hook.

An intriguing encounter was unfolding with Clarke showing his wealth of experience, but he sustained some damage to his left eye in a bruising fourth.

Wardley unloaded a powerful barrage with both hands in round five and his breakthrough eventually came, sending his rival to the canvas with a thumping right hand just before the final bell.

The experienced amateur recovered well towards the halfway point and was able to settle back down, with Wardley clearly feeling the pace after his encouraging onslaught.

Momentum continued to swing in Wardley’s favour and even more so in the seventh round, with Clarke deducted a point by the referee after landing a low blow.

Wardley dropped Clarke with a thumping right hand in the fourth

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Wardley dropped Clarke with a thumping right hand in the fourthCredit: Lawrence Lustig/ BOXXER

Wardley looked battered despite being in the ascendancy, his nose pouring with blood and potentially broken as the fight drew into the ninth.

Clarke was still in the fight and landing his own work, while Wardley was struggling with damage to his nose in the tenth which was cleared to continue after a brief intervention by the ringside doctor.

There was a feeling that the younger fighter was on borrowed time, with the gruesome injury seeing blood pour all around the ring, in addition to his right eye closing up at a rate of knots.

But the slugfest went the distance despite a thrilling back-and-forth final round, and saw the event end in a hard-earned draw.

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