By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Badou Jack wasn’t about to let the judges affect the outcome of another of his title fights Saturday night.
Jack battered Nathan Cleverly in their light heavyweight title fight until referee Tony Weeks mercifully stepped in to stop it at 2:47 of the fifth round at T-Mobile Arena. Sweden’s Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) became a two-division champion by winning the WBA world light heavyweight title from Wales’ Cleverly (30-4, 16 KOs) on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor undercard.
Jack’s previous four fights resulted in two majority draws, a split-decision win and a majority-decision win. That frustrating stretch included a majority draw with IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale (23-1-1, 14 KOs) in his previous fight, January 12 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The fifth started with Jack unloading with hard combinations to Cleverly's head. Cleverly's entire face was reddened and he had few answers for the incoming punishment. Cleverly was trying to duck and move around the shots, but many of them were still landing as Jack punned him against the ropes and was letting his hands go. The beating continued until referee Tony Weeks jumped in to wave things off.
“You can’t leave it in the hands of the judges,” Jack told Showtime’s Jim Gray in the ring after stopping Cleverly. “You have to go for the kill.”
Jack began battering the taller Cleverly in the fourth round, when he bloodied his opponent’s nose. The newly crowned champion landed a particularly punishing right hand to the side of Cleverly’s head in the fourth round and followed it up with a crushing left hook.
Jack picked up in the fifth round where he left off. He connected with a sweeping right hand that knocked Cleverly into the ropes.
Once Jack followed up that shot with two right uppercuts against a vulnerable Cleverly, Weeks wisely moved in to stop the fight.
The 33-year-old Jack, a Las Vegas resident who’s promoted by Mayweather’s company, fought for the first time at 175 pounds since he gave up his WBC super middleweight title earlier this year because he couldn’t continue to make the 168-pound limit.
Cleverly ended a much longer layoff than Jack on Saturday night. He hadn’t fought since he stopped Germany’s Juergen Braehmer after six rounds to win a version of the WBA light heavyweight title October 1 in Neubrandenburg, Germany.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.