WBO light heavyweight boss Nathan Cleverly enjoyed a successful homecoming last night, posting a wide points verdict over challenger Tommy Karpency at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales.
Karpency came into the bout as the clear underdog and was engaging in his first world title defense after a career to date that had included facing only one opponent at world level, losing to ex-European super middle champ Karo Murat in 2010.
Cleverly was looking to impress his hometown fans following his very difficult defense against British Champion Tony Bellew in Liverpool this past October and the Cefn Fforest man did not disappoint.
From the opening bell, southpaw Karpency drew on his long experience as a sparring partner to some of the division's biggest names, using angles in an attempt to throw the champion off balance.
But Cleverly immediately put the challenger on the defensive, establishing a very active offense that forced Karpency into a guessing game of which punch was coming next.
After the first few rounds, in which the challenger displayed his ability to take a punch, Cleverly began to work in a very effective left to the ribs that reddened the side of his rival and it looked as if Karpency might start to fold.
But the American refused to buckle, instead using the rare breaks in Cleverly's offensive flow to mount brief attacks that were successful at times but far too infrequent.
Karpency gained some relief from the body assault by countering Cleverly's lefts with a right hook that rarely landed but it cause the champion to scale down the rib shots.
Going into the later frames, Karpency was hopelessly behind on the cards and the Pennsylvania resident came off the defensive in an attempt to pressure his antagonist, backing up Cleverly with pressure and a stepped up offense but still, the southpaw could not keep up with the hyperactive champion.
The bout ended with Cleverly still on the attack and it was no surprise when the lankly local man was awarded a unanimous decision on scores of 120-108 on all three cards.
Cleverly remains undefeated at 24-0 (11), retaining the WBO crown for the third time, and is likely looking at a high profile unification match before the end of the year.
Karpency showed a lot of heart in a losing effort, dropping to 21-3-1 (14).
In support bouts, ex-WBO cruiser king Enzo Maccarinelli, 34-5 (27), stopped super middle Ciaran Healy, 13-18-1 (4), in two rounds at light heavy while welterweight prospect Frankie Gavin, 12-0 (9), gunned down former British champ Kevin McIntyre, 30-9 (9), in the third round during an all-southpaw clash.