(Nathan Cleverly, right, lets his hands go)
If Nathan Cleverly had been hoping to stake his claim for a tutorial with the old master at light heavyweight, Bernard Hopkins, then he could probably have done with looking a tad less unruly than he eventually managed in shutting out Robin Krasniqi on Saturday on Epix. Cleverly, 25-0 (12 KO), Cefn Fforest, Wales, dominated Krasniqi, 39-3 (15 KO), Munich, Germany by way of Kosovo, over 12 rounds at Wembley Arena, London, to take a unanimous decision via scores of 120-108 (twice) and 119-109.
Cleverly pinned the visitor in against the ropes for entire rounds at a time with a jab that was flicked out incessantly and that he backed up with speedy combinations. Krasniqi, unbeaten in 38 contests, landed some strong counter hooks and uppercuts in the 6th and turned aggressor in the 7th but could not contend with the Welshman’s volume and variety. Compubox had Cleverly — who boxed loosey-goosey with his hands by his waist — throwing 1,047 punches to Krasniqi’s 381 at the finish.
“I enjoyed it in there tonight,” Cleverly said afterwards. “I felt focused for the full 12 rounds. I suppose the only thing missing was the finish.” At 26, and after stagnating somewhat of late thanks to a series of trifling alphabet assignments, Cleverly is ready for a big fight. He needs to start looking upwards rather than sideways.
Heavyweight Dereck Chisora, 16-4 (10 KO), Finchley, London, plodded through nine rounds with Hector Alfredo Avila, 20-13-1 (13 KO), Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the exit bout before halting him at the 2:49 mark. Chisora, showing up at a soft-looking 252 lbs., looked half-asleep at times and largely disinterested. The shaven-skulled Avila, 218, seemed content to make up the numbers and finally wilted after fielding a left hook in his own corner.
Liam Walsh, 14-0 (10 KO), Cromer, Norfolk, outscored veteran Scott Harrison over 10 intriguing rounds at lightweight, though the hard-bitten Harrison, 27-3-2 (15 KO), Glasgow, Scotland, proved game throughout the contest. The 4th round included some spirited exchanges, but the 35-year-old Scot faded down the stretch. Walsh, the junior man by nine years, assailed him in the penultimate session and ran out a worthy winner in a contest that was a smidge closer than the official cards would suggest. Scores were 97-93 (twice) and 98-92.