Welcome to the club, Sergey Kovalev. We're glad to welcome you officially, even if Welshman Nathan Cleverly isn't, into the New Bomber Brigade, alongside your mates Gennady Golovkin, Adonis Stevenson, Deontay Wilder and Lucas Matthysse.
Kovalev, (seen in photo by Main Events, as ref pulls plug on Cleverly) a Russian, violently snatched away Clev's 175 pound WBO title, and inserted himself into the mix as one of boxing's new merchants of menace, guys who you need to tune in to see, because they are more likely than not to end the fight early, and in nasty fashion.
Kovalev did just that in Cleverly territory, at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff via a TKO4 on Saturday evening, after he sent the champ to the mat twice in the third, and for good in the fourth. The time of the finish by the calm purveyor of cerebellum distress was a mere 21 seconds into the fourth.
In the first round, in a fight televised by HBO, we saw Clev getting backed up right away by Kovalev (22-0-1, with 20 KOs). The jab by the winner was stiff and so was the right. Clev's jab got out there at 1:30, but for a volume guy, he wasn't as busy as you might expect. Clev's dad and trainer Vince promised pre-fight that his kid would stop Kovalev, and do what he needed to do to adapt during the fight, if need be. The 26-year-old Clev, who got seasoning sparring hundreds of rounds with Welsh Hall of Famer Joe Calzaghe early in his career, came out for round two warmed up. But the 30-year-old Kovalev, who lives in Florida, used solid rights to good effect, though a cut opened on his right eye. He kept hurling, though, lead rights, and ate a clean right with no problem, at 25 seconds. Once again, the “volume guy” was not the busier man, and we wondered what Clev, not a bomber who can change things in one feel swoop, could do to adapt.
In the third, Kovalev hit with that left hook to the body, to mix things up. Clev had Kovalev backing up some, but then a left hook stunned Clev. Two rights sent Clev down at 48 seconds. He hit the mat again, taking a knee, with 22 seconds to go. He was almost out at the bell. Now was the time to adapt…
In the fourth, Kovalev came out for the finish right away. A few pops buzzed Clev again, and he was weak-kneed, causing the ref to wave his hands. A left hook to the head made Clev's right glove hit the canvas to help keep him up, and that was all the referee, a sage decider, needed to see.
Kovalev went 100-297, to 37-128 for the loser.
There will be an appetite for Kovalev to meet Adonis Stevenson, if as the oddsmakers expect, he downs Tavoris Cloud on Sept. 28, in Canada, and on HBO. Kovalev is a handful for anyone, I suspect, though there might be a few souls who will say they need to see him in against a foe whose best win to this point was against someone of higher caliber than Tony Bellew. Readers, what do you think of Kovalev, and who would you like to see him face off with? Could the crafty graybeard Bernard Hopkins handle this Russian with the destructive tendencies?
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