Kovalev Crushes Cleverly in 4
New boxing writer for DBB Peter Wells reviews Sergey Kovalev’s sensational 4th round KO win over Nathan Cleverly and reviews the rest of the card in Cardiff
The nightmare is over and the storm has passed, Nathan Cleverly can breathe easy again. But like any flash flood, Sergey Kovalev also tore away what is most valuable to Cleverly, his unbeaten record and his WBO Light Heavyweight title, all with one quick but vicious wave.
Cleverly now 26-1(12KOs) was on the wrong end of a short but cruel beating at the fists of Russian star Kovalev. Many punters backed the knockout artist to inflict this punishment upon the Welshman, but to witness just what Kovalev did to a world class operator, still sends shivers of shock down one’s spine.
Kovalev who improves to 22-0-1(20KOs) was the dominant operator throughout. In the first two stanzas he had Nathan backing up and throwing in return very little indeed. Cleverly seemed far too wary of the Russians concussive power but while holding a high guard did not circle Kovalev which would have been advised.
Instead Cleverly stepped backwards one or two steps at a time, making it simple for Kovalev to launch his powerful straight shots without needing to break a sweat chasing Cleverly.
In the third round a devastating combination had Cleverly reeling, and like a true hunter Kovalev followed his injured prey. A series of powerful right hands and left hooks had Cleverly on the canvas for the first time in his professional career.
That trip to the canvas was swiftly followed by another as Kovalev showed no mercy. Cleverly this time seemed to rise too early, still on wobbly legs the referee allowed the show to continue before Cleverly was saved by the bell.
Referee, Terry O’Conner was required to guide a bewildered Cleverly back to his stool when his whole body sagged. It was one of the clearest images of a beaten fighter with confidence gone and his senses vanquished it would have been wise for his corner to pull him out right there and then.
Instead Cleverly was given one last shot to save his title, but Cleverly may not have even known about any title at this stage. Still wobbly, Kovalev remained poised, still picking the perfect punches, which only made the beat down worse. Eventually Terry O’Conner halted the contest after Nathan had sank to the canvas yet again.
What lies ahead for Cleverly is hard to decipher right now, but given his clear abilities it shouldn’t be long before he should be back in with the big boys of the division. Both Bernard Hopkins and Beibut Shumenov are viable targets to win back some world honours.
As for Kovalev, it seems boxing has added to its list of knockout artists. Suddenly the new WBO Light Heavyweight champion is bringing comparisons to Lucas Matthysse and Gennady Golovkin. It’s unlikely that Bernard Hopkins will be too interested in the Russian but a clash with WBC king and fellow knockout artist Adonis Stevenson would draw huge interest.
On a packed undercard, Enzo Maccarinelli turned back the clock with a stunning 11th round knockout of Ovill McKenzie, winning the Commonwealth Light Heavyweight crown.
In a mentally and physically draining fight, both Maccarinelli and McKenzie were hurt on several occasions. After a good start Enzo let it slip in the middle rounds when it looked as though McKenzie would force the stoppage.
Instead it was Maccarinelli who pushed back and grew stronger as the fight entered the latter stages. One devastating uppercut and McKenzie was out cold, forcing referee Phil Edwards to intervene.
With the win Enzo improves to 37-6(29KOs) while McKenzie drops to 21-12(10KOs).
In another dramatic fight, Stephen Smith tore the British Super Featherweight title from Gary Buckland’s grasp with a contender for knockout of the year.
After a fast paced opening 4 rounds, Smith was beginning to land with sharp right hand counters. Then in the 5th came the perfect counter-punch as he landed a right uppercut under the jaw of Buckland. The hometown fighter was out cold before he hit the canvas, but was thankfully okay.
With the devastating KO Smith moves to 17-1(10KOs) while Buckland drops to 27-3(9KOs).
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