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Fonfara defeats Cleverly in thrilling war!

KB7A8653(Photo credit: David Earnisse/Premier Boxing Champions) By Scott Gilfoid: #2 WBC light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara (28-3, 16 KOs) busted up former WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (29-3, 15 KOs) in handing him his third defeat of his career in beating him by a 12 round unanimous decision on Premier Boxing Champions on Spike TV from the UIC Pavilion, in Chicago, Illinois.

The final judges’ scores were 115-113, 116-112 and 116-112.

Fonfara busted Cleverly’s nose in the 7th round, and the fight for all intents and purposes was over from that point. Cleverly was taking vicious head shots and throwing back with nothing on his punches at all. The difference in power between the two fighters in the 2nd half of the fight was dramatic. Cleverly had good power in the first three rounds, but he really lost it.

In the 4th and 5th, Cleverly was getting a little cocky by showboating in the rounds. He was winding up on his right hand in a windmill fashion and then throwing it. The problem is Cleverly lacked any kind of power when he was throwing it. That kind of clowning around would have meant something if Cleverly was still fighting well in that point in the fight.

Cleverly really gassed out after the 3rd. He looked like a world beater for the first three rounds, but I don’t know what happened to him after that. He looked tired and lost all the steam on his punches completely. Fonfara wasn’t anything special in there compared to some of the other top contenders at 175, but he was still doing a number on Cleverly.

“He can really bang – he’s not far off Sergey Kovalev for power,” Fonfara said. “But I thought I had him until the nose went and I think that without that, I could’ve got the win. But in the end, I think the 115-113 was about right, and credit to him, he took some punches in there too and kept on coming.”

After the 8th, Cleverly’s nose had swelled up to the point where he looked a little bit like a lion. The referee examined Cleverly’s nose after the 9th, and gave him the all clear to continue fighting.

Fonfara threw an awful lot of punches in the fight, as did Cleverly. You can make an argument that he could have scored a knockout in the 7th round if he had thrown his shots with more speed on them. But Fonfara is one of those slow George Foreman type punchers, who wears his opponents down with his heavy shots rather than stopping them with single shots like Deontay Wilder. But if someone like Artur Beterbiev, Sergey Kovalev or Adonis Stevenson was in the ring tonight, Cleverly wouldn’t have made it out of the 7th.

Part of Fonfara’s problem was he smothered his own work much of the time by standing too close to Cleverly rather than standing at the proper distance to get the most power on his shots. But still, Fonfara was throwing with a great deal of power with every shot he threw regardless of his distance. Those shots really drained Cleverly to the point where he was just no longer capable of fighting hard in the 2nd half of the fight.

I hate to say it but Cleverly probably needs to retire after this loss. It was his third defeat in his last six fights, and he’s not beaten anyone good in the last 4 years since 2011. I think it’s time for Cleverly to hang up the old gloves.

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