Russian puncher Sergey Kovalev ripped the WBO light heavyweight title from Nathan Cleverly at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales on Saturday night with an impressive fourth round tko win.
The 26-year-old local hero had hoped to impress American boxing fans on his HBO debut and seek out unification fights but his gamble to failed to pay off.
Kovalev started the fight a slight favourite going in he was expected to the Welshman’s toughest test to date which proved the case.
Prior to the fight Kovalev had the reputation of taking out his opponents early and from the opening bell went looking for the ko by looking to land big right hands. Despite losing the opening round and the Russian challenger raining in jabs and right hands, Cleverly did manage to open up a cut on Kovalev’s right eye.
Cleverly did land a few decent right hands of his own in the second session but he was rocked badly by a left hand and went down moments later from a clubbing over hand right. The Welshman rose to his feet but was unsteady and moments later he was down from another right to the head.
Cleverly was out on his feet again moments later and referee Terry O’Connor was ready to stop the fight , only for Cleverly to be saved by the bell.
It was only a matter of time, though, before the inevitable happened and Kovalev wasted no time in the fourth by unleashing as many power right hands as he could and it was only a matter of time before a right cross and left hook sent Cleverly wobbly across the ring again leaving referee O’Connor no choice but to stop the fight after 0.30 of the fourth round.
The new champion Kovalev said after the fight: "I came here and nobody believed I beat their champion but everywhere else in the world they knew already how good I was.
"I knew he couldn’t take my power. The fact the fight was televised on HBO in the United States was very important for me."
Cleverly loses for the first time and falls to 26-1 (12) while Kovalev moves to 22-0-1 (20).
August 17, 2013