Nathan Cleverly enjoyed a successful, albeit controversial first defense of his light heavyweight title on Saturday night with a TKO victory over Alexsy Kuziemski.
Much to the anger of a packed London O2 Arena, American referee Mark Nelson called a halt to proceedings early in the fourth round after the Polish challenger, a third choice for the fight, suffered a cut above his left eye.
The injury stemmed from an accidental clash of heads in the previous round, which should have meant a no-contest ruling.
However, the referee missed the incident and Cleverly – awarded the WBO belt via the phone on Thursday in the wake of Juergen Braehmer’s late withdrawal – emerged triumphant with his unbeaten record intact.
“I think the referee stopped the fight prematurely,” admitted a slightly-disappointed Cleverly (22-0, 11 knockouts). “I wanted to put on a show for the fans.”
Other results: Frankie Gavin of England outpointed Young Mutley of England in a 12-round welterweight fight, and Billy Joe Saunders of England stopped Kevin Hammond of England in the second round of a scheduled eight-round middleweight bout.