Kovalev crushes Cleverly in four
Nathan Cleverly (26-1) was dominated and then stopped by hard hitting Russian Sergey Kovalev (22-0-1) in the 4th round to lose his unbeaten record and WBO light heavyweight title on Saturday night at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales.
The 26-year-old Welshman came out fighting defensively by staying on the outside while Kovalev, 30, was looking to land big right hands from the first minute and won the opening round quite clearly.
In the 2nd round Cleverly made few inroads despite somehow opening a cut over the challenger's right eye while Kovalev's blows started to put some effect on the champion, successfully deploying the jab followed by a driven right hand on a regular basis.
Cleverly was rocked badly by a left in the 3rd and went down moments later from a clubbing right. He rose to his feet but was unsteady and was sent down again after another right to the head, made worse by Kovalev hitting him again as he sank to one knee.
Referee Terry O'Connor let the fight continue although Cleverly was out on his feet only for the bell to save the Briton, if only for another round.
At the start of the 4th, Kovalev jumped in and unleased several punches more. A right and a hooking left forced Cleverly down again and O'Connor this time decided enough was enough.
On the undercard, Liverpool's Stephen Smith (17-1) stopped Gary Buckland (27-3) with a seething short right uppercut in the 5th to leave the Welshman out cold and win the British super featherweight title.
Swansea's Enzo Maccarinelli (37-6) won the Commonwealth light heavyweight belt when he stopped Ovill McKenzie (21-12) in the 11th, after a right hand and a left upercut left his opponent defenceless. Referee Phill Edwards stepped in at 2:44 of the round to stop the contest.