By Dewi Powell: Britain’s newest world champion, Nathan Cleverly, has promised that his overdue homecoming in September will be a special occasion.
The 24 year old light-heavyweight last fought in his home country of Wales on the undercard of Joe Calzaghe’s super-middleweight unification with Mikkel Kessler in front of over 50,000 fans at the Millennium Stadium.
Cleverly has since fought around Britain in the cities of London, Manchester and Liverpool and he’s looking forward to fighting back in Wales. The WBO light-heavyweight champion said, “It’s been a long time, I’ve had my last 11 fights on the road so it’s been a long time coming. I think when I’ve been on the road fighting and winning the Commonwealth, British, European(titles) and now world, it’s all built up for a good home coming and it’ll be a special occasion for myself and my fans.”
The first defence of Cleverly’s WBO belt is likely to be against a ranked opponent but Cleverly is keen to unify the belts against the other champions in the division, “Beibut Shumenov and Tavoris Cloud, the WBA and IBF champions, are fights that are just around the corner. I’m sure they’d be very good fights, exciting fights.” insisted Cleverly.
The marquee name in the division is Bernard Hopkins who became the oldest world champion ever, aged 46, with a points win over Jean Pascal for the WBC title. That win was the same night Cleverly beat Aleksy Kuziemski in a WBO title fight and Cleverly hopes that their paths will cross in the future.
“Bernard Hopkins is a living legend in boxing, he’s tied up with Chad Dawson and he’s the long term aim. I think I’d like a few unification fights with the likes of Shumenov and Cloud, then obviously Hopkins is the long term goal in the future.” stated a respectful Cleverly.
While Cleverly has always taken care of business in the ring, his preparation for his last two fights has been hampered by very late pull outs. In December Alejandro Lakatos pulled out and in came Nadjib Mohammedi who Cleverly out worked to win the WBO Interim title.
Cleverly admits the pull out affected him in December; “I lost focus by the time the fight came with the change of opponent. In stepped Mohammedi who was ranked in the top 10 by the WBO and I just hadn’t prepared for someone of that calibre. I went a little bit negative, lost focus and it showed in the fight.”
But he believes it highlighted a key quality in his game, he said, “I think what I did show is that on a bad day, I can win. That’s what champions do, that’s what the best champions do so I proved that.”
Cleverly was again victim of a pull out in May when Juergen Braehmer didn’t show up in London but the Welshman was better prepared this time and commented, “For the last fight I had a change of opponent three times. I had experience of it before with the fight in December so I was a little bit better this time, my head was still on it. I wasn’t so fired up to be truthful as I would if I was fighting Braehmer but I maintained focus and I just made sure I went out and enjoyed myself becoming world champion.”
July 18, 2011