By Johnny Walker
Russia’s Sergey Kovalev made a major impression on the boxing world today with a comprehensive beating of now former WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly.
Unfazed by fighting against the champion in his own backyard, Kovalev simply strode into the ring at the Motorpoint arena in Cardiff, Wales, and calmly took away Cleverly’s WBO title.
Cleverly’s reputation was for his granite chin, but that chin started to crack early into the fight, as Kovalev came out throwing bombs from the start. A cut appeared around Kovalev’s right eye in round two, but the Russian didn’t let it faze him, and continued to pound Cleverly, whose own shots seemed relatively minor in comparison to Kovalev’s thudding punches.
Kovalev did look a little annoyed by the cut, and seemed to decide that round three was going to be the last round of the fight. Cleverly made the mistake of trying to out-macho the Russian, beckoning him in for an exchange, but the “granite chin” cracked as the Welshman was sent tumbling to the canvas. Cleverly spent the rest of the round staggering around the ring, as referee Terry O’Connor appeared to be almost panicked as to whether to stop the fight or let Cleverly continue to take a beating. As the bell sounded to end the round, it appeared that O’Connor was actually holding Cleverly up. Kovalev, however, remained unfazed and focused.
Round four was a foregone conclusion, with Cleverly still on unsteady legs as Kovalev moved in for the finish. With the Russian thundering punches down upon the Welshman, who appeared literally dazed and confused, referee O’Connor finally did the right thing and stopped this one-sided beatdown.
“This is the first title in my collection,” a smiling and confident Kovalev (22-0-1, 20 KOs) said after the fight. His promoter Kathy Duva said that her fighter is willing to take on anyone and everyone in the picture at light-heavyweight.
As for Cleverly (26-1-0), he has a serious rebuilding job to do as his confidence was shattered by Kovalev in his own backyard. He called for the Russian to come and trade with him, and was given a brutal beating for his efforts.