Saturday, 17 August 2013

Nathan Clevery v Sergey Kovalev

It's not often that a world champion making his 6th defense is seen as a fighter "stepping up" but that's exactly what many thought when Nathan Cleverly (26-1, 12), the then WBO Light Heavyweight champion, signed to face Russian puncher Sergey Kovalev (22-0-1, 20).

Kovalev entered the bout with a fearsome reputation as a thunderous puncher and came into the fight with recent stoppages over Gabriel Campillo and Cornelius White, two highly regarded contenders in their own right. Cleverly however had entered the bout with recent wins over C grade opponents like Tommy Karpency, Shawn Hawk and Robin Krasniqi, a genuine who's who of who cares.

The competition that Cleverly had faced had left many split opinions, was he as good as his record or merely fighting selective opponents so that he could retain his world title. Unfortunately for this bout it certainly seems that Cleverly had been protected.

The Welshman started positively trying to getting his excellent engine going though unfortunately for him the Russian was picking his jab and countering with it whilst landing thudding hooks to the arms and shoulders of Cleverly. It appeared obvious that Kovalev was going to try and break Cleverly one way or another and if he had to break his arms to get through his defense so be it.

In the second round Kovalev moved up a gear and began to have more success. Even the shots that Cleverly himself was landing were doing little more than bouncing off Kovalev who appeared to know that he could take anything Cleverly could throw at him.

Kovalev's power seemed to put Cleverly into his shell at the start of round 3 and when a fighter is in his shell Kovalev merely does as he wishes, as we've seen several times in his career so far. The shell of Cleverly unfortunately was weak and Kovalev managed to shake him, then drop him, effectively destroying the myth of Cleverly having an impenetrable chin.

Cleverly got up from the knockdown but was still shaken when Kovalev went back on the attack and dropped him again soon afterwards. This time Cleverly appeared to rush to his feet and Kovalev, with just seconds left in round 3 went for the early finish, a finish he appeared to get before the bell went and referee Terry O'Connor literally carried Cleverly to his stool.

Remarkably, despite Cleverly looking completely done the referee had literally saved him. The Welshman's corner, who really should have taken a hint from their charge looking physically destroyed should have saved their charge but instead sent out Cleverly for the fourth. It was a foolish decision and Kovalev soon forced the hand of O'Connor who seemed to have little option but stopping Cleverly before he took an absolute beating.

With his reputation and confidence in tatters it'll be a very long way back for Cleverly. He failed to make the most of his title reign and may again struggle to regain any type of a major world title.

For Kovalev this was little more than a coming out party. He's now announced himself on the world stage and we're hoping he'll get the big fights that his talent and explosive style deserves.

No comments:

Post a Comment