A none too clever move from Cleverly? Nathan wants a rematch with Sergey Kovalev next year

11/15/2016 - By James Slater - Comments

Welshman Nathan Cleverly, the reigning WBA light heavyweight champ, remembers well the beating world number-one Sergey Kovalev put on him back in August of 2013, yet he says he wants a rematch next year. Speaking with ESPN.com, Cleverly, who lost his unbeaten record to Kovalev inside four rounds, says he expects “Krusher” to defeat Andre Ward on Saturday night and that he will then face him for a second time.

“It will be close, and go the distance, but I’m going with Kovalev,” Cleverly said on Saturday’s big fight. “I see why people are thinking Ward, but Kovalev keeps his distance and has good balance, he has got long punches – and he is the bigger guy. He will win the rounds on work-rate and make Ward very defensive. I think he will win a close decision. The winner is my official mandatory, so will collide with me at some point in the not-so-distant future. They will get their business done and I will get my business done and then it could happen. If it’s Kovalev, people will think I’m crazy to get back in the ring with him, but I’m a fighter, a risk-taker; if it’s there I will do it.”

Cleverly, 30-3(16) and stopped only by the feared Russian banger, must rematch Juergen Braehmer at some point (“provisionally my next fight,” Cleverly said of the contractually-bound return with the man he won the WBA belt from back in October)) but the Welshman insists he took the Kovalev fight “too early” in 2013 and that he is confident he can make it a different fight in a rematch. But is there anyone out there, barring Cleverly and his team, who thinks Cleverly can possibly beat Kovalev?

The first fight was no contest, a severe beat-down. Cleverly may have more experience today – and he showed his toughness in that terrific war with Andrzej Fonfara, even though he lost the decision – and maybe he would adopt a different game-plan in a return and perhaps stick around for a little longer. Still, it would take a brave fan to bet on anything other than a second Kovalev stoppage win. And it’s unlikely Cleverly would enjoy home country advantage in a return fight.

Credit to “Clev” for wanting and calling for a shot at revenge, but would a part-two with Kovalev really prove to be a smart move?