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Cleverly retains WBO title in US debut

LOS ANGELES (AFP) –

The unbeaten Cleverly improved to 25-0 with his 12th win inside the distance.

File picture. Nathan Cleverly made his United States debut in style, retaining his World Boxing Organization light heavyweight title with a convincing eighth-round stoppage of Shawn Hawk.

Welsh fighter Nathan Cleverly made his United States debut in style, retaining his World Boxing Organization light heavyweight title with a convincing eighth-round stoppage of Shawn Hawk.

The unbeaten Cleverly improved to 25-0 with his 12th win inside the distance.

He dominated from the opening bell and sent Hawk to the canvas twice in the seventh round and again in the next before referee Tony Crebs called a halt one minute and 53 seconds into the eighth round.

“I enjoyed this, I enjoyed the atmosphere,” Cleverly said of his first US bout — which was held at the home of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team and drew at least one Laker, Ron Artest, to the audience.

“He was a tough opponent but eventually I broke him down. I’m really looking forward to coming back to the US and fighting here again.”

The bout at Staples Center was on the undercard of Mexican Abner Mares’s World Boxing Council super bantamweight title defence against Panamanian challenger Anselmo Moreno.

Hawk, who stepped in as challenger at just five days’ notice, was out-classed.

The Native American fighter, who campaigned at cruiserweight until 2010, fell to 23-3 with one drawn.

Through the first four rounds Cleverly went after Hawk’s head, but in the middle rounds he began breaking down the challenger with body blows.

After the two knockdowns in the seventh, Cleverly unleashed a series of body blows to send him down again in the eighth.

A follow-up flurry from the Welshman had Hawk in trouble and Crebs jumped in to stop it.

“I like to take risks sometimes, so I get caught with punches, but this is boxing,” said Cleverly, who hadn’t fought since earning a unanimous decision over Tommy Karpency in February. “It’s a combat sport.”

In the build-up to the bout Cleverly had spoken about potential future contests, mentioning World Boxing Association champion Beibut Shumenov and International Boxing Federation champ Tavoris Cloud, as well as aging US warrior Bernard Hopkins.

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