Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12 KO) may have had the home-field advantage when he stepped into the ring with Sergey Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KO) to defend his WBO light-heavyweight title, but it did not help the champ one bit. He was battered brutally through four rounds of action.
Kovalev, better known by some as "Krusher," peppered Cleverly with body and head combinations over the four rounds. Cleverly was defenseless and wound up hitting the mat three times before the referee called an end to the bout.
The crowd from Motorpoint Arena in the Welsh capital saw the champ badly exposed. Cleverly was hoping to parlay a victory over Kovalev into unification fights in the United States.
Instead Cleverly was brutally overwhelmed and received the first loss of his professional career.
Kovalev came into the fight as a much-hyped power striker, but questions remained about his ability to pull off those swings effectively against tougher competition.
Suffice to say, that question was answered emphatically.
The first round saw Cleverly flirt with mixing it up, but after seeing how much power was behind Kovalev's strikes, Cleverly went on the defensive. Round 2 saw more of the same, with the "Krusher" putting his foot to the pedal to win the round.
Round 3 is where things turned ugly, with Cleverly biting the canvas twice after power combinations. The referee essentially carried him back to his corner to begin Round 4, when Kovalev put him out of his misery 29 seconds into the round.
Kovalev is now likely on his way to megadeals and stardom, while Cleverly has to sit back and analyze where it all went wrong after looking fully unprepared for the match. He's still 26 years old, but approaching a fight that unprepared is a cause for concern.
There's a new name to fear in the light heavyweight division after Kovalev's show of dominance. Unlike the former champion's inflated record, Kovalev is the real deal and has the power combinations to hold on to the strap for a long time.
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