Nathan Cleverly retains WBO light-heavyweight title
London: Nathan Cleverly made a fifth defence of his World Boxing Organisation (WBO) light-heavyweight title with a unanimous points win over Robin Krasniqi.
The unbeaten Welshman stayed on course for a lucrative world title unification clash with Bernard Hopkins with a 120-108, 120-108 and 119-109 win at Wembley Arena.
Cleverly, 26, was denied a stoppage by the stubborn resistance of German Krasniqi, who refused to go down despite taking some heavy blows and was awarded only one round by the three judges.
Cleverly, who has a degree in mathematics from Cardiff University, can now look forward to facing Hopkins, boxing`s oldest ever world champion at 48 and holder of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) belt.
Kosovo-born but Germany-based Krasniqi, 26, suffered the third defeat of his career which ended a 38-fight winning streak, while Cleverly improved to 26 wins.
Krasniqi, who complained earlier this week about the fight with Cleverly being postponed three times, was put under incessant pressure in the opening round and hardly threw a punch.
Cleverly began working behind his jab with one flurry of punches against the ropes in the first round before landing a right uppercut in the second.
Krasniqi was limited to single, hopeful shot by Cleverly`s piston-like jab but was able to open up more in the third round.
He took a huge right on the ropes as Cleverly began unloading more power punches in the fourth round.
Later in the fourth, Cleverly snapped back Krasniqi`s head with a left uppercut through the middle of the German`s guard and moments later followed up with a sweeping left hook.
Krasniqi not only took the barrage, but came back with his own right hook which stopped Cleverly`s onslaught.
Cleverly switched his attack to the body in the fifth round and a crunching left saw Krasniqi`s legs buckle.
Krasniqi had his best round in the sixth, catching Cleverly more than at any other time in the fight, although the Welshman did connect with two big left hooks.
It was Krasniqi who was now the aggressor in the seventh round and landed a big right with Cleverly a static target on the ropes moments before the bell.
Cleverly skidded away to safety before taking any more punishment and was able to regain command in the eighth, although his early zip and vibrancy were temporarily missing.
Krasniqi was hurt by body shots in the ninth. Cleverly was back in control for the last two rounds and there was little doubt as to the outcome of the fight and Krasniqi looked relieved to hear the final bell.