The Nathan Cleverly vs. Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight title fight took place tonight at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales. The undefeated Welshman Cleverly, coming into the fight with a 26-0 record with 12 KOs, looked to defend his WBO strap against his best and fiercest opponent to date, “Krusher” Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KOs). Would Cleverly’s boxing secure the victory, or would Kovalev’s power and aggression prove to be too much?
Check out the full Cleverly vs. Kovalev results below.
Sergei Kovalev, 22-0-1 (20 KOs), annihilated defending WBO Light Heavyweight Champion Nathan Cleverly by 4th round TKO. A pair of knockdowns in the third round left Cleverly in a heavily-deteriorated state, allowing Kovalev to easily mop up at 21 seconds of the 4th. Cleverly falls to 26-1 (12 KOs).
With a crunching puncher like Kovalev, the question is how his power will translate at the top level. By going into Cleverly’s territory in Wales and destroying a reigning titlist, he showed he is the real deal. When Kovalev started honing in with his power shots, Cleverly went downhill quickly. It was a very impressive performance and it’s now clear why Kovalev is the most ballyhooed up-and-coming light heavyweight in quite some time.
The pair of tall light heavies got going right away in front of the pro-Cleverly crowd. Kovalev immediately went after Cleverly, with the hometown boy spearing out some jabs. Kovalev’s workrate remained vigorous to take the round. More of the same in the second, with the aggressive Russian zeroing in on the WBO champion. Kovalev began bleeding from a cut over his eye halfway through the round. The challenger, noted for his punching power, is actually a slick customer in there and not as crude as he would appear on the surface. Cleverly looked a little better at the end of the second.
Cleverly appeared to be getting back into it, becoming more acclimated to the determined Kovalev attack. Then a left wobbled Cleverly badly. Kovalev moved in and moments later, a clubbing right dropped Cleverly. At the end of the third, Cleverly was dropped by a series of punches and was in big trouble. He got up and was battered until the bell rang to end the round. Barely.
A few more rights dropped a totally-spent Cleverly, with the referee waving it off at 21 seconds. A word about referee Terry O’Connor. The guy is obviously clueless. Not that his work affected anything tonight, but at the end of the third, he moved in before the bell had rung as if he was going to stop the fight. The bell rang and he assisted Cleverly to his corner. And even his 4th round stoppage was ill-timed and unemphatic.
Nevertheless, a star at light heavyweight has been born. Whenever a fighter is as dominant and exciting as Kovalev, it’s a good thing. It will be interesting and fun watching him tangle with the rest of the elite at 175 pounds. The options are intriguing.
Be sure to check back with us for more post-fight coverage and analysis, including updates to our divisional rankings at 175 lbs, following the Cleverly vs. Kovalev results.