Sergey Kovalev crushes Cleverly to dethrone world champion

Sergey Kovalev crushes Cleverly to dethrone world champion

By Dewi Powell: The gamble didn’t pay off for Cefn Fforest’s Nathan Cleverly (26-1, 12KO) as he was stopped in the fourth round by Russian wrecker Sergey Kovalev (22-0-1, 20KO) in the sixth defence of his WBO world light-heavyweight title at a packed Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

The opening rounds of the Frank Warren Promotions ‘Red Mist’ main event were close and Cleverly tucked up behind a tight defence but as Cleverly’s jab began to keep the relaxed Russian on the back foot, he overreached and was made to pay as a straight right/left hook combination put him on his heels.

Kovalev’s follow up attack forced the Welshman to the floor and when he rose, Cleverly was soon receiving another count from the referee as he took a knee to recover – only to be hit hard twice on the back of the head. It went unpunished and Cleverly rose too soon, spending the rest of the third round trying to survive. When the bell sounded, referee Terry O’Connor was on the brink of stopping the contest and even appeared to carry Cleverly a few steps closer to his corner.

Cleverly’s corner attempted to manage the crisis but he was acting on instinct alone. His legs still hadn’t recovered and Kovalev forced the stoppage forty seconds in to the fourth round to give the Welshman his first professional loss. 26-year-old Cleverly, Wales’ 11th world champion, is now taking time away from boxing to decide whether or not he’ll continue his career.

The former Commonwealth, British and European champion was tempted into the fight by the involvement of American broadcasting powerhouse HBO, who were backing Kovalev, but Cleverly will probably regret the decision to take such a risky voluntary defence.

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