This is your non-spoiler post for the HBO light heavyweight bout between Sergey Kovalev and Nathan Cleverly. If you want to wait until 9:45 p.m. to watch the fight live, read no further.
SERGEY KOVALEV-NATHAN CLEVERLY
I was about 95 percent sold on Kovalev before Saturday. I'm 100 percent after watching him maul Cleverly, an authentic divisional contender who had barely ever been hurt in his career, let alone dropped, and dropped again, and dropped again until he was finished in the 4th. Bring on Kovalev against lineal champion Adonis Stevenson. Please. That would be a power punching orgy.
There is hardly much to say about it, so comprehensive and one-sided was the beat down. Kovalev came out firing those heavy, thudding punches in volumes approaching the triple digits per round. Cleverly was lost. He tried to find a home for his jab, and did, but nothing he landed was likely to affect Kovalev, because Cleverly can't punch. Maybe his "fight the fighter" strategy wasn't the wisest (just maybe), and he should have boxed more cautiously, rather than standing in range and taking shots.
By the beginning of the 3rd it looked as though Kovalev might be losing steam on his shots, but by the end it was clear he hadn't, because Cleverly was down once from a combination that ended with a body shot, then was down again from another combination, and had to be carried to his corner by the referee. Which: What was up with that? That's not appropriate.
By the 4th, Kovalev was ready for the finish, and it didn't take much longer after a very focused body attack. This time, the referee knew he couldn't save the home team fighter no matter how far he carried him or picked him up and waved it off. Cleverly has talent and could rebound. He just ran into a guy in the middle of an aristeia.
The only question now is how long we might have to wait for Stevenson-Kovalev. As we learned at the weigh-in yesterday, two different promoters have a claim on Stevenson's next opponent(s) soon. If Kovalev wants to fight a Bernard Hopkins or Andrzej Fonfara while we wait, fine by me. I certainly want to see whatever he does next.