Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nathan Cleverly stops Hawk in eighth round to retain Light Heavyweight Championship

WBO Light Heavyweight Champion defended his title in fine fashion on Nov. 10 by stopping Shawn Hawk in the eighth round at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. The Welsh champion was cheered on by fellow countryman Tom Jones and several other famous celebrities at ringside and he didn’t disappoint them as he had his way with his American challenger.

Hawk took the fight on just a week’s notice after Cleverly’s original opponent Ryan Coyne pulled out of the contest due to a contract dispute with his promoter the, notorious Don King. Cleverly was in control from the outset, but Hawk did have his moments when he landed some nice right hands to the champion’s head. Cleverly was just too skilled and fast him though and eventually wore him down and dropped him three times along the way. Hawk hit the canvas twice in round seven and once in round eight before referee Tony Crebs stopped the bout at the 1:53 mark.

With the win, the unbeaten Cleverly raised his pro record to 25-0 with 12 KOs while Hawk dropped to 22-3-1 with 16 KOs. Cleverly was fighting for just the second time on American soil and before the bout he said he was anxious to show the fans that he was a complete and exciting boxer. He definitely looked dominant, but the level of opposition needs to be taken into consideration. The 28-year-old Hawk of Sioux Falls, South Dakota tried his best, but the late notice and his limited skills worked against him.

After the fight the 25-year-old Cleverly said he’d like to take on aging American ring legend Bernard Hopkins some time in 2013. He added that he may also ask his father Vince, who’s also his trainer, to step aside since he’s considering hooking up with Freddie Roach, who is a five-time trainer of the year. Working with Roach would be a good idea since Cleverly needs to tighten up his defensive skills. He likes to fight in close, but often leaves himself open for counter shots.

Considering it was the first time Hawk has been stopped in his career though Cleverly deserves some credit for his performance. However, it could still be too early for him to take a huge leap in class and take on the world’s elite boxers while trying to unify the light heavyweight title belts. Cleverly said he likes to take risks in the ring and that he’s obviously going to get hit because that’s what boxing’s all about. He said he enjoyed the atmosphere in Los Angeles and is looking forward to fighting in America again in the near future.
If Cleverly proves that he has a solid chin and can handle the top boxers the same way he did Hawk, he could hold onto his title for a few more bouts. However, if he happens to lose it to one of the other champions it’s going to be a long road back for him to ever regain it. His best course of action would be to hire a world-class trainer and take a step up in class with his opponents for a couple of more fights before challenging one of the other light heavyweight belt holders.

Ian Palmer

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