Welsh boxer Nathan Cleverly could become the new WBO light-heavyweight champion if Juergen Braehmer is sent to prison on Monday
Welsh boxer Nathan Cleverly has completed a momentous 12 months by winning the vacant WBO ‘interim’ light-heavyweight world title in Liverpool on Saturday.
The unbeaten 23-year-old Welshman finished a mathematics degree earlier this year while adding the European title to his collection of belts.
Cleverly beat Frenchman Nadjib Mohammedi via unanimous decision despite a performance well short of his best to claim the interim title and move within one step of being a fully-fledged world champion.
And should the current holder Juergen Braehmer be sent to prison on Monday, Cleverly will be upgraded and Saturday’s win will effectively have secured him the title.
If Braehmer avoids a custodial sentence, though, Cleverly is set to take him on in the spring of next year for the chance to win the belt in the ring.
Cefn Forest fighter Cleverly came into the ring at the Echo Arena with an impressive 20(10KOs)-0 record while Mohammedi had 23 winswith one defeat.
A tentative opening round saw Cleverly in control but only land two punches of real significance, a wide right hand to the head and another to the body soon after.
Cleverly jabbed more frequently in the second and then caught Mohammedi coming in and was trying to utilise his reach advantage with mixed results.
Cleverly landed a good left hook in the third but had yet to really produce a sustained attack.
It was largely uninspiring action with Mohammedi, a late replacement for original opponent Alejandro Lakatos, proving awkward. The sixth saw Cleverly caught late on from a rare Mohammedi attack and he seemed momentarily frozen, though he recovered to retaliate with a right before the bell.
Cleverly was deducted a point for holding by referee Dave Parris in the seventh, although it was difficult to see why. Meanwhile, the Welshman landed three solid left hooks in the round as he sought to step it up. The two began to trade blows and it was the Briton who looked worse for wear.
Cleverly was struggling, with promoter Frank Warren looking anxious at ringside although a right uppercut backed the Frenchman up briefly.
The fight opened up in an eventful ninth round with Cleverly warned for punching low before catching his opponent with a left hook and further winging shots from both hands.
A long right hand in the 10th landed sweetly on Mohammedi’s chin but the tempo had dropped. The final two rounds were laborious affairs and the crowd voiced their frustration, but Cleverly had done enough to win it on the scorecards 115-112, 116-111 and 115-113.