In front of a massive pay-per-view audience, Badou Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) added the WBA light heavyweight title to his resume with a fifth-round TKO win over Nathan Cleverly (30-4, 16 KOs) on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor megafight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.
The WBA congratulated its new champion:
From the outset, both fighters lived up to their reputations. Cleverly came forward with volume and landed, but Jack came back with the heavier, more impactful punches. Sherdog summed up the first two rounds:
As the fight progressed, that trend would only be magnified in favor of the challenger. Jack began to string together power punches as Clev's usual aggression turned into constant protection. ShoStats provided context for the first four rounds:
In the fifth, it became apparent Jack would continue to bludgeon Cleverly. With no more offense left for Clev and Jack continuing to turn on the pressure, referee Tony Weeks finally called an end to the onslaught. Fox News Radio's Ryan O'Hara agreed with the decision:
This is a big step for Jack. The Mayweather Promotions fighter successfully transitioned from the super middleweight division (168 pounds), where he was the WBC champion, to light heavyweight (175 pounds).
With Mayweather in his corner, the future looks bright for Jack. The 33-year-old showed himself well as a 168-pound fighter in wins over Anthony Dirrell, George Groves and Lucian Bute.
Defeating a multiple-time champion in Cleverly makes his resume even more impressive. It also shows Mayweather's chops as a promoter. Jack understands the power of Money in that capacity.
"I made a big name for myself at super middleweight, and Floyd told me that he'd get me a title fight at light heavyweight, either with [world champion Adonis] Stevenson or another title fight," Jack said, per Dan Rafael of ESPN. "He got me the fight. I'd rather fight Stevenson than Cleverly, but this is a good fight too and it's for a world title. Floyd promised me I'd fight for a title and he's always delivered, so I'm very thankful to have a promoter like that."
After the fight, he once again took the opportunity to call out Stevenson, per Bad Left Hook:
The matchup with Stevenson will have to wait, though. The WBA already ordered up Dmitry Bivol as the mandatory challenger for Cleverly when he was champion, so it's likely that will be Jack's next fight.
That will be a bout worth keeping an eye on. The 26-year-old Russian is a rising star in the division with an 11-0 record that features nine knockouts.