Boxing: Cleverly proves himself worthy of world title shot

Nathan Cleverly's reward for his emphatic light-heavyweight victory over the previously unbeaten German Karo Murat in Birmingham on Saturday night is likely to be a world title challenge in December.

Promoter Frank Warren is lining up another "superbill" to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his involvement in boxing, and in the Cardiff 23-year-old he might have found the latest in his long line of headline acts.

Cleverly, a graduate of the Newbridge gym ruled by the Calzaghe clan, proved in the manner of his win over Murat that he deserves his shot at the reigning WBO champion Jurgen Brahmer.

Cleverly pounded the iron-chinned Murat almost at will before the referee wisely pulled the German out at the start of the 10th round. On the judges' scorecards Murat had failed to win a single round. Cleverly said: "Sometimes I think I'm getting ahead of myself because I won my British and European titles in quick succession. But I think I've proved that I'm definitely ready for my world title shot."

He added: "It went 100 per cent to plan. My plan was to get out there and be impressive from the start. I had a great start and I took the fight right out of him. I started busting his face up and it was only a matter of time."

Warren will now seek to make a match against Brahmer, for which this fight was an official eliminator. But the issue is clouded by the fact that Brahmer is currently appealing against a 16-month prison sentence for assault.

The lengthy appeals process in Germany is likely to make the December date viable but other options include Cleverly being handed the title outright in Brahmer's absence, or getting a shot at the newly-vacant crown.

The prospective December bill will not include former the WBO cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli, who was told to retire by Warren after his crashing knockout in his European title clash with Alexander Frenkel.

Maccarinelli was knocked out cold and endured five worrying minutes on the canvas after referee Erkki Meronen had amazingly allowed him to continue following a first heavy knockdown. The Welshman had crashed backwards from a left hook and after clambering to his feet still looked unsteady, only for Meronen to wave in Frenkel who duly finished the job with another jolting left. After receiving oxygen Maccarinelli was helped back to his corner.

Sheffield's Kell Brook extended his unbeaten record to 22 fights and retained his WBO intercontinental welterweight title with a fifth-round win over former world title challenger Michael Jennings. Olympic hero James DeGale stopped Carl Dilks in round one to extend his unbeaten record to eight, and London heavyweight Derek Chisora stopped Sam Sexton in nine to add the Commonwealth title to his British crown.

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