By Geoff Poundes
This evening, at the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena in Wales, Nathan Cleverly fell short of confirming his arrival as a legitimate world champion when he took apart the challenge of American Tommy Karpency over twelve routine rounds.
Cleverly, now 24-0, 11KO’s, retained his WBO light-heavyweight title when Karpency was comprehensively out-worked over the distance. The Welshman’s proponents will be concerned that he was unable to stop his man, particularly considering the American was complaining to his corner as early as the fourth round that he was too tired to compete. Karpency showed a degree of slickness, and a sparring partner’s capacity to survive, but little or no ambition to win. When Cleverly watches the fight back he’ll be disappointed that he’s probably not done enough to tempt the likes of Bernard Hopkins or Chad Dawson into a set-to. It may be that Nathan will have to travel to the States and prove his undoubted mettle in an American ring before those big guns of his division take him seriously.
Karpency, who drops to 21-3, 14 KO’s, was completely outgunned and dropped every round on every scorecard. He had a decent tenth round, and there were moments in the fight when he bamboozled the champion with some clever defensive work, but he’d had a year out of the ring prior this challenge, and he simply wasn’t ready to compete with any kind of parity against a young warrior of Cleverly’s undoubted stature.
Afterwards, the Welsh hero talked up his opponent: “At times I thought Tommy was wilting, but he was a strong fighter and very durable. Gradually I was breaking him down. He hit me harder than any other opponent.”
Frank Warren, his promoter, tried to paper over the cracks of the mismatch, and called out The Executioner: “If Hopkins comes through against Dawson, I’d love Nathan to fight Hopkins in Cardiff in June.”
On the undercard Enzo Maccarinelli, 33-5, 26 KO’s, took part in a meaningless tune-up fight in anticipation of his challenge to new British cruiserweight champion Shane McPhilbin when he predictably stopped super-middleweight journeyman Ciaran Healy. Healy came to the fight with a 13-17, 4 KO record, gave away height, reach, weight, experience and talent to the former world champion, and duly fell apart as soon as Enzo put together a few body shots. The referee mercifully ended matters in the second round.
Earlier Frankie Gavin, the UK’s only world amateur champion, appeared to have put his personal issues behind him when he returned to the ring and took a comprehensive third round knockout win from former British titleholder Kevin McIntrye. Gavin was the boss throughout the fight, landing left crosses at will from a southpaw stance, and the final right hand that sunk into McIntyre’s ribs and forced him to take the full count confirmed the potential of the much-fancied Midlander. Gavin is now 12-0, 9 KO’s and it’s a shame that he seems to want to fight at welterweight, which is currently one of the hottest divisions in the fight game, when with a little more discipline he could easily fight at 140.