The first of two title fights on the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor undercard featured WBA “regular” light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly taking on former super middleweight champion Badou Jack, who’d vacated his WBC title to make a permanent move to 175-pounds.
Round 1 was a barnburner, as Jack threw some brutal punches to the body, but Cleverly closed strongly with a series of right hands to the head. The pace was fast and they were both more than keen to throw hands. Jack, who is known for his body shots, was ripping Cleverly to the midsection. The Swede was also connecting on power punches to the head. Cleverly was throwing a lot of arm punches, so while he was having his moments, he didn’t appear to be landing the more damaging shots.
Jack cracked Cleverly with several left hooks early in round 4 and had the Welshman in some trouble. The speed and the pace was steadily breaking Cleverly down. Jack had Cleverly bloodied and it was evident that Nathan needed to dig deep to get back into the fight.
The insane onslaught of offense from Jack continued into the 5th, as he attacked the body and head relentlessly as Cleverly was struggling to return fire. An uppercut and a hook made Cleverly retreat. Jack was looking for the finish, but Cleverly hung tough. The body shot count was staggeringly lopsided in Jack’s favor. Cleverly took a sustained beating against the ropes and referee Tony Weeks stepped in to waive the fight off. There’s really no argument for the fight to go on much longer, as Cleverly was just taking too much punishment. Jack “The Ripper” was sensational. It was a body shot clinic and a vicious display of combination punching, speed, and accuracy.
Official result: Badou Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) def. Nathan Cleverly (30-4, 16 KOs) by TKO at 2:47 of round 5 to become the new WBA “regular” light heavyweight champion