The crowd at SSE Arena, Wembley, in London roared Friday as the final horn sounded to end the rematch between hometown hero Michael “Venom” Page and his nemesis, ex-champion Douglas Lima. It was almost as if they were trying to will him to victory after an agonizingly close and difficult-to-score bout.
The flashy Page had his moments in the rematch of a 2019 bout that Lima had won by knockout. Lima, though, did, too.
Fittingly for such a fight, it was a split decision. Ben Cartlidge favored Lima, 29-28. But judges Doug Crosby and Eric Colon had it 29-28 for Page, giving him the victory and likely propelling him into a title fight against unbeaten champion Yaroslav Amosov.
“The one and only MVP is back,” Page shouted to the adoring crowd following the narrow victory.
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Page was the quicker fighter and was getting the edge when the fight was on the feet. He dropped Lima twice early, but he could never follow up on that advantage. Part of it was because Lima hopped back up immediately and part of it was because Page never threw combinations and seemed to try to end the fight with a crushing right.
The first round told the story of the entire fight. Page controlled the first half, but Lima took him down at almost the exact midpoint of the round. From that point until the end, Lima pinned Page to the mat and dropped some shots from the top on him.
Page wound up on his back for the final minute-plus of the fight, leading to plenty of anxious moments among the partisans. Once Page hit the floor, he did nothing offensively and wasn’t able to break free and get back to his feet.
He celebrated being able to force Lima to try to take him down.
“I make all strikers, every single striker who’s stepped in front of me, I’ve turned into wrestlers,” said Page, who is now 20-1. “Every single one of them.”
Page survived a hairy moment in the second. Lima kicked Page’s legs out from under him and briefly put him down. As Page was getting up, Lima fired a huge right hand. Page pulled back and it whistled past him.
It was eerily reminiscent of the first fight, when Lima didn’t miss and finished Page. This time, Page was ready for it.
“Fool me once,” Page said, grinning wryly. “Fool me once. I got up with my eyes up. I saw that punch coming and you know, I’m good at slipping. I ain’t going to get hit with that same punch again.”
While Page moves on to a title shot, Lima has to clean up a three-fight losing streak.