Despite a valiant effort from Munich´s Robin Krasniqi, his dream of becoming a world champion ended in disappointment after a wide points defeat to Welshman Nathan Cleverly in London last night.
It looked like it would be a short night's work for the champion when he caught Krasniqi with a right hook to the side of the face in the opening round, dazing the challenger momentarily. However, Krasniqi regained composure very quickly and went on to complete the full 12 rounds, losing a unanimous decision by just about the widest possible margin. Two of the judges scored all rounds in Cleverly's favour while the other gave Krasniqi just one, presumably the sixth.
Krasniqi gave a good account of himself and although he was dominated for most of the bout, showed signs of intent when he did let go of his trademark uppercut and managed to land some good shots at times. The champion was on top of his game though, and Krasniqi couldn't find a way through Cleverly's watertight defence.
At just 26 years of age Krasniqi still has a bright future in the sport. He will have learnt a lot from this fight and after 38 straight wins, a defeat at the highest level won't do him too much harm. He showed a lot of heart and should bounce back as a much better fighter.
Cleverly was confident and assured for the opening half of the fight. In round seven, he clearly took his foot off the gas and had a less busy round. The threat of a big swinging right from Krasniqi was always there and fitness was now becoming a factor after six fast-paced rounds.
For Cleverly it was important that he came through this fight in convincing fashion in order to line up a money-spinning unification clash with the legendary Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins is just two years shy of his 50th birthday and became the oldest man to win a world title last month when he defeated Tavoris Cloud by unanimous decision.
Cleverly was very impressive and had really upped his game since his last outing against a tame Shawn Hawk last November. He executed a smart plan perfectly, was in good physical condition and his long teasing jab proved too much for Krasniqi to found a way inside.
The Welshman stretches his perfect record to 26 and must now face another mandatory challenger, European champion Jurgen Braehmer. Braehmer earned his chance of regaining the WBO world title he was stripped of two years ago by defeating fellow German Eduard Gutknecht for the EBU strap in February. He will defend that belt this coming weekend in Hamburg against the man who recently sparred with Krasniqi, Tony Averlant of France.