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Kovalev stops Cleverly to take light-heavy title

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August 17, 2013 06:23 PM EST | AP


CARDIFF, Wales — Sergey Kovalev handed Nathan Cleverly his first professional loss, stopping the Welshman in the fourth round to take the WBO light-heavyweight title Saturday night.

The unbeaten Kovalev claimed his 22nd win after flooring Cleverly twice in the third round before forcing referee Terry O'Connor to step in 29 seconds into fourth after the Russian unleashed a series of power shots that had his opponent wobbling.

Cleverly (26-1) was seeking a victory to set up unification fights in the United States, but Kovalev (22-0-1 with 20 knockouts) emerged from the Motorpoint Arena in the Welsh capital with his reputation enhanced.