Harry Pratt

Cleverly stops Kuziemski in four

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.

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