Nathan Cleverly retained his WBO light heavyweight title and possibly set up a March 9 bout with Bernard Hopkins, beating Shawn Hawk via eighth round TKO tonight on Showtime Extreme in Los Angeles.
Cleverly (25-0, 12 KO) mostly dominated the fight, but late replacement opponent Hawk (23-3-1, 17 KO) gave a fine effort, showing up to win and giving it his very best shot. The two traded blows early in the fight, with Cleverly very active and seeming to land the harder shots, while Hawk tried to land right hands, and dig to the body with his left hook. He landed some blows, but it was clear that Cleverly was a bigger and stronger fighter, and he took advantage eventually.
In the seventh round, Cleverly scored a pair of knockdowns, as the pace had set in and overwhelmed Hawk, who was effectively saved by the bell before Cleverly could put him away. Early in the eighth, Cleverly put him down again, and the referee gave Hawk a warning that one more knockdown would result in a stoppage. It didn't quite get there, as a body shot buckle Hawk a bit against the ropes, and referee Tony Crebs jumped in to stop the bout, which was overdue if anything. The Hawk corner also threw in the towel at that moment.
It's certainly not the sort of win that establishes Cleverly any more than he was coming into the fight, as Hawk was by no means a serious contender entering tonight, but it's a win, and he gave a pretty good show in the process. Hawk has nothing to be ashamed about on his end, as he exceeded most expectations and gave a genuine effort.
Also on the Showtime Extreme broadcast, junior welterweight prospect Antonio Orozco stayed unbeaten with a TKO-6 win over Danny Escobar. Like the first fight, it was a case of talent winning out over a brave but outmatched opponent. Escobar (8-2, 5 KO) might actually have a future himself and could eventually work his way into something. But Orozco was the clear better fighter here, though he was forced to earn it. He was up 50-45, 50-45, and 49-46 on the cards at the time of stoppage. Orozco improves to 16-0 (12).