Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report

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Kovalev Pummels Cleverly in Four to Win WBO Lightweight Title

Cleverly - Kovalev

(Photo By. Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

By. BrotherJR

8/18/13

Going into this much talked about Light-Heavyweight battle between defending WBO champ Nathan Cleverly and WBO #2 ranked contender Kovalev, it was Cleverly that was considered the underdog.  Even though Cleverly was undefeated going in and fighting on home soil in Wales, it was Kovalev who was the fighter receiving all of they hype and much of the attention.  Kovalev has been one of the more talked about fighters and rising contenders in the sport.  He has been the talk of boxing fans based on largely on his 3rd round destruction over former WBA Light-Heavyweight champion Gabriel Campillo this past January as well as his follow-up TKO over Cornelius White in June.  On Saturday night in Cardiff, Wales Kovalev more than lived up to the hype, overwhelming and stopping the previously undefeated Cleverly by 4th round TKO to win the WBO Light-Heavyweight title.

Kovalev (22-0, 20 KO’s) got off to a hot start early, setting the pace by establishing the jab as well and landing combinations to the head and body in round one.  Generally known as a boxer, Cleverly (26-1, 12 KO’s), elected to mix it up early with the hard-hitting Kovalev. However, by the end the first round he was in defensive mode feeling early on the power of Kovalev.  It was much of the same in round 2 as Kovalev stayed on the front foot, landing a variety of shots to the head and body of Cleverly who couldn’t get going as he was unable find his rhythm.  The defending champ couldn’t land any telling blows of his own and was in constant defensive mode to avoid the hard shots from the powerful challenger.  Kovalev suffered a cut over his right eye a minute into round 2, but it didn’t matter as he was in control early on.

As rough as it was for Cleverly through the first two rounds, it became worse for him in the third.  With 65 seconds to go in the round, Cleverly was hurt by a Kovalev left hook.  A follow-up assault from the Russian challenger, culminating with a right hand, put Cleverly down for the first time in his professional career with 45 seconds to go in the round.  Cleverly was knocked down again in the round with 30 seconds to go, this time via another right hand by Kovalev.  Cleverly was very luck to survive the round and was visibly hurt at the end of the ring and was very wobbly as he headed back to the corner, with some help from referee Terry O’Conner.  In fact, the argument could be made that the only reason Cleverly was able to survive the round and not have the fight stopped at that point is because he was fighting in his home country.  It would not matter however as in round 4, Kovalev attacked and swarmed a still wobbly Cleverly.  With Cleverly hurt and at the end of another assault by Kovalev, referee O’Conner had no choice but stepped in and call a halt to the contest with 21 seconds into round 4.

Kovalev2

With this win, Sergey Kovalev is now a major player in the Light Heavyweight division as well as one on the hottest and fastest rising boxers in the sport. He is a fighter that has star potential.  The 175 pound division is becoming one the better divisions in boxing.  At the top of the Light Heavyweight landscape is current IBF Champ Bernard Hopkins.  However, what has many hardcore boxing fans mouths watering throughout social media, is a potential unification bout with the hard punching WBC champion Adonis Stevenson. Stevenson has an upcoming bout in September against Tavoris Cloud, but should he win that, a Kovalez-Stevenson bout sometime in 2014 would be explosive and guaranteed TNT.  Other interesting bouts for Kovalev would be a bout against former Light Heavyweight champ Jean Pascal as well as bouts with current Super Middleweight top dogs Andre Ward and Carl Froch.   As for Cleverly, not all is lost.  He’s still only 26 years, young enough to come back and still be a future player in the Light Heavyweight division.  Kudos for Cleverly even facing such a daunting task and fighting such a dangerous opponent.  In the end, this fight just proved to be a case of Cleverly facing a stronger and ultimately better man in Sergey Kovalev, who is proving himself to be the real deal and a emerging force not just in the Light Heavyweight division, but maybe throughout all of boxing.

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August 18, 2013 - Posted by | Blog, Boxing | , , , , ,

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