New WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev has been welcomed to the elite of the division by WBC king Adonis Stevenson as another spectacular knockout win sparked the beginning of a new reign.
Stevenson, who entered the realms of world title status with his own destructive victory over Chad Dawson in June, watched on as Nathan Cleverly was pummelled by the powerful Russian in four rounds in Cardiff.
‘Superman’ believes that Cleverly’s lack of ring presence was a major factor in his downfall on Saturday night and sees knockout artist Kovalev’s emergence adding something extra to an already bustling division.
“Kovalev is very aggressive and very strong. Unfortunately for Cleverly, he did not have the guns to be respected and at that level, that’s murderous,” Stevenson told World Boxing News.
“I am happy for the rise of Kovalev in the light heavyweight scene because he is bringing more depth, visibility and popularity into an already very talented division.”
Prior to his clash with Kovalev, Cleverly had backed former opponent Tony Bellew to defeat Stevenson when the two meet later in the year, although the Canadian wasn’t surprised at the Welshman’s stance when speaking on the now former champion’s views.
“It is normal for him to cheer for his countryman, especially where Bellew gave him such a very difficult fight,” said Stevenson.
“Cleverly is an excellent fighter and I would have liked to unify against him, but against Kovalev – the best man won.”
The 35 year-old southpaw is slated to meet ex-IBF title holder Tavoris Cloud on September 28 before his mandatory defence against Briton Bellew, although Stevenson is taking having his next two fights finalised in his stride.
“I plan to fight often, four times per year, so I like to see fights lined up so after each fight I know exactly where I am going,” he explained.
“It is very unusual to have a fight signed before the completion of the first one – but this was requested by the WBC in order to have an optional defence granted.
“We complied to this, but you don’t have to worry, my mind is fully focused on Cloud for the time being,” he added.