Cleverly stops Fry, Fails to Impress; Saunders Defeats Spitko, Chisora stops Noniashvili
By Nate Anderson: For those boxing fans who see light heavyweight Nathan Cleverly (18-0, 8 KO’s) as the second coming of Joe Calzaghe, they may need to hold off a bit on their expectations about him because he seems far from realizing the talent that Calzaghe formerly possessed, at least as of now.
On Friday night, the 22-year-old Cleverly defended his Commonwealth and BBBofC British light heavyweight titles with an 8th round stoppage over 34-year-old Courtney Fry (13-3, 5 KO’s) at the York Hall, in Bethnal Green, London. Cleverly’s defense was mostly nonexistent throughout the fight, as Fry hit him whenever he pleased with power shots, mostly uppercuts to the head and hard jabs.
Although Cleverly was able to get the better of Fry in the majority of the rounds, it was alarming how easily Fry was able to connect to the head of Cleverly. Going into this fight, there was talk of Cleverly making a move on a world title in the future at some point, but the way he looked against Fry, I can’t see Cleverly having any luck against the existing world light heavyweight champions, as badly flawed as they all are.
Cleverly would likely be knocked out by all of them and battered ceaselessly due to his horrid defensive skills. At 22, Cleverly needs a lot of work on his defense if he’s to get to the next level. His offense appears to be fine but his defense is atrocious and needs major work.
The 34-year-old Fry was able to hit Cleverly with every punch he threw in the fight. Luckily for Cleverly, Fry’s work rate was low in most of the round and he generally did very little after the first half of each round.
The end of the fight came in the 8th after Cleverly tagged Fry with a big right hand to the head, causing Fry to duck and back away towards the ropes at the same time. Cleverly then fired a perfect right hand that tagged Fry square in the back of his head.
This is the punch that appeared to really hurt Fry. He then pulled completely back to the ropes and tried to cover up. Cleverly raced forward and landed a right to the body followed by a right uppercut, another right to the body, right to the head, a left hook to the head and finally a lopping right to the head.
The referee Victor Loughlin then jumped in between them and stopped the fight at 2:51 of the 8th round. In the process of stopping the fight, both Fry and Loughlin fell to the canvas. Fry got to his feet and looked a little hurt and confused at the stoppage.
Cleverly dominated rounds one through four, throwing hard body shots and a variety of punches to the head. Fry was able to land cleanly in each of these rounds, but failed to let his hands go enough to win the rounds. In the 5th round, however, Fry teed off on Cleverly early in the round, hitting him with one shot after another for a solid minute.
For a second there, I thought that Fry was going to take Cleverly out of there because it was one way action. However, Cleverly came back somewhat in the 2nd part of the round but he looked a little shell shocked to say the least. In rounds six through eight, Cleverly made sure to box much more, using his jab and avoiding any fire fights with Fry.
Cleverly was effective fighting this way, but it wasn’t a good sign that he couldn’t over power a domestic level fighter like Fry and needed to box in order to get the win. In the 8th round, Cleverly put an end to matters after hurting Fry with two consecutive right hands, with one of them landing to the back of the head.
As I said, the win was hardly impressive and leaves me wondering whether Cleverly will ever be more than a British and Commonwealth champion. At this point, I can’t see him capturing a world title any time soon looking the way he did on Friday night against Fry.
Cleverly is currently ranked #7 WBO, #8 International Boxing Federation, #11 WBC and #15 WBA. The current champions, Tavoris Cloud, Pascal, Jurgen Brahmer, Zsolt Erdei and Gabriel Campillo, would probably have a field day fighting a wide open fighter like Cleverly. It would be badly one-sided in my view and Cleverly would be forced to retreat to the outside and jab like he did against Fry on Friday night. Needless to say, wouldn’t beat any of those champions by jabbing. It takes more than that to beat fighters like them.
In other action on Friday night’s card, 2008 British Olympian Billy Joe Saunders (4-0, 3 KOs) defeated Alex Spitko (6-16, 4 KOs) by a lopsided four round decision. Referee Dave Parris scored it 40-36. Saunders, 20, had little problem with Spitko, landing effectively to the body and head with huge shots. However, Spitko was determined not to be knocked out and took an enormous amount of punishment but stayed upright.
Making his first fight since his suspension for biting his last opponent Paul Butlin, unbeaten heavyweight Derek Chisora (11-0, 6 KOs) took out Zurab Noniashvili (12-7-1, 6 KOs) in a 3rd round stoppage.
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