Nathan Cleverly eases to WBO title win over Robin Krasniqi

Nathan Cleverly throws a right punch at Robin Krasniqi

Nathan Cleverly was taken the distance by Robin Krasniqi but always looked a class apart as he retained his WBO light-heavyweight title at Wembley.

A confident start by the 26-year-old Welshman suggested an early stoppage but Krasniqi rallied as Cleverly dropped his work-rate.

The champion was caught by unnecessary shots in the mid-rounds but Krasniqi lacked the power to cause any damage.

Two of the judges scored it 120-108 to Cleverly, with the other 119-109.

The fifth title defence extended Cleverly's unbeaten record to 26 fights, but the performance lacked dynamism against a durable yet limited opponent.

It did little to suggest he is ready to face 48-year-old IBF champion Bernard Hopkins, who has said he is interested in a unification fight this summer.

"I'm surprised he went the full 12 rounds to be honest," Cleverly told BBC Radio Wales at ringside.

"I hurt him early on with a right hand and I thought, sooner or later, he was going to go. But he was gritty and tough.

"He dug in and was very hungry. He kept on fighting back but it was important that I stayed focused and just boxed."

Kosovan Krasniqi, who arrived on the back of a 38-fight winning streak, grew in confidence as some complacency crept into Cleverly's work after five dominant rounds.

The champion eased off instead of driving home his obvious superiority. Krasniqi, 26, landed his best shot of the contest in the seventh when an overhand right connected with his opponent's chin.

Cleverly quickly resumed control - the bell saving Krasniqi in the 10th round after the Welshman finally started to unload.

But the final two rounds passed uneventfully as the champion settled for a unanimous victory, losing just one round on the judges' scorecards.