Welsh light heavyweight sensation Nathan Cleverly won his first world title bout by stopping late replacement opponent Aleksy Kuziemski last night at London's 02 Arena, retaining the WBO crown.
Cleverly, who was awarded the title before the bout when reigning champ Juergen Brahemer pulled out at the last minute, controlled the first frame handily, using a crisp jab against the shorter Kuziemski.
The Polish challenger, who had previously held the WBO Intercontinental and EBA titles, fared slightly better in the second, scoring with a few right hands but was troubled by a stern body attack from the champion. Cleverly also continued to rack up points with the jab, producing several facial injuries on Kuziemski.
By the third frame, Cleverly looked to end matters by opening up and slugging it out but that gave the challenger the opportunity to catch the champion by surprise and land his own heavy shots.
But going into the fourth, Kuziemski had taken a lot of punishment and in that round, Cleverly went back to boxing and picked the challenger apart, culminating in a spearing left to the body that caused referee Mark Nelson to wave off the contest at 1:27.
WBO champion Cleverly improves to 22-0 (11), while Kuziemski now stands at 21-3 (5).
The undercard saw a hotly anticipated domestic super middle clash between British champion James DeGale and Commonwealth king George Groves.
Olympic hero DeGale had lost to Groves in the amateurs and the southpaw vowed he would turn the tables on his rival this time.
The early stanzas were close as the pair stuck to boxing their way through but by the middle rounds, each fighter had scored and hurt the other with big punches.
DeGale nearly had Groves out during a one-sided ninth and seemed to win the later rounds, with Groves sustaining several lacerations but the Commonwealth king pulled out the 12th and final frame.
When the scores were read, Groves had won a controversial majority decision 115-114, 115-114 and 115-115, remaining undefeated at 13-0 (10), while DeGale loses for the first time, dropping to 10-1 (8).
Welter prospect Frankie Gavin, 10-0 (8), won a wide points verdict over ex-British champ Young Mutley, 29-6 (14), to annex the vacant WBO Intercontinental belt.