Sergey Kovalev dropped Nathan Cleverly three times en route to an impressive fourth-round stoppage victory on Saturday in the defending titleholder’s home area of Cardiff, Wales.
Kovalev (22-0-1, 20 knockouts) earned the WBO title with the dominating performance. Cleverly (26-1, 12 KOs) was unbeaten and had always shown the ability to take a good punch. However, the Russian contender is more than just a good puncher — he’s a true power puncher with very good technique.
He also showed an excellent work rate during the first three compete rounds, and basically overwhelmed Cleverly, whose arms and body took a terrific pounding before Kovalev was able to buckle his legs with a right hand-left uppercut combination midway through the third round. He followed up with a series of lefts to the body and an overhand right, which put Cleverly down for the first time. Cleverly got up on unsteady legs and was down again at the bell. The 26-year-old boxer needed the referee to help him back to his corner.
Kovalev pounced on Cleverly at the start of the fourth round and literally pounded the weary titleholder to the canvas where the referee waved the bout off. There was no complaint of the stoppage from Cleverly or his corner.
A full ringside report will be filed soon from Tom Gray.
Photo / Scott Heavey-Getty Images