Nathan Cleverly's unbeaten record went up in smoke as impressive Russian Sergey Kovalev took his WBO light-heavyweight title off him with a destructive fourth-round stoppage in Cardiff. The 26-year-old Welshman had been seeking headline unification fights in America and was under pressure to impress an American audience at the Motorpoint Arena being televised across the Atlantic.
However, Kovalev, a narrow favourite with some bookmakers, tore up the script in the Welsh capital by flooring Cleverly twice in the third round and forcing a stoppage in the next session to disappoint the thousands of Cleverly fans and take the title. Cleverly's record now reads 26-1 (12 KO wins) while fearsome Kovalev moves to 22-0-1 (20KOs).
New champion Kovalev said: "I came here and nobody believed I beat their champion but everywhere else in the world they knew already how good I was. I knew he couldn't take my power. The fact the fight was televised on HBO in the United States was very important for me."