Cleverly loses world title after Kovalev KO
NATHAN Cleverly’s WBO light heavyweight title was ripped away from him last night as his Cardiff homecoming turned into a nightmare.
Kovalev floored Cleverly three times in two explosive rounds to take his title and break 5000 Welsh hearts, Cleverly’s usually granite chin unable to withstand such an onslaught.
The Russian is a lights out specialist, 19 of his 22 victories coming inside the opening three sessions and he look to overwhelm Cleverly with power in the opening stanza.
It’s hard to remember another puncher taking command of the centre of the ring and pushing Cleverly onto the back foot, but that’s exactly what Kovalev managed as Cleverly looked to box and work behind his jab.
Kovalev’s firm grip on proceedings continued into the second, but let us remember, having things his own way in the opening exchanges is merely business as usual for the Russian.
However, in the third session things went horribly wrong for Cleverly who was put down for the first time in his career, a booming right from Kovalev setting the stage for what would be a crushing defeat.
The Russian again had Cleverly down after a left right combination and at the end of the round again almost floored the Cefn Fforest fighter, only the bell saving a certain stoppage as Cleverly just about remained vertical thanks to Terry O’Connor’s assistance.
Arguably that should’ve been all she wrote but the fourth continued in the same vein, another knockdown enough for referee O’Connor who stopped the contest after 29 seconds.
Kovalev had proved to be the real deal and will now face bigger and better things as a world champion. For Cleverly, robbed of the undefeated record he so valued, a period of reflection will follow.