Cleverly stops Hawk in eight

Nathan Cleverly retained his WBO light-heavyweight title with an eighth round stoppage victory over Shawn Hawk in Los Angeles.

Making his fourth defence, the Welshman put Hawk down twice in the seventh round before finishing him off in the next.

Cleverly's superior skills and hand speed bamboozled his opponent throughout, but, as is his wont, the champion carelessly took some heavy shots in return.

The 25-year-old's attacks to the body lay at the heart of the late stand-in's troubles, and although Cleverly took a flush straight right in the third he was already in charge.

He stayed more on the outside as the fight wore on and took fewer shots as a result, stepping up his attack with a sharp left-right combination to end the sixth.

Solid blows downstairs followed by a pair of right hooks sent the American to the canvas in the next and another flurry had the challenger down for a second time at the end of the session.

Another left to the body exposed Hawk early in the eighth and a chopping right saw him down again and although he rose once more, the end was soon in coming.

"I enjoyed this, I enjoyed the atmosphere," Cleverly said of his return to the US, where promoter Frank Warren is looking to gain him exposure.

"He was a tough opponent but eventually I broke him down. I'm really looking forward to coming back to the US and fighting here again."