Former WBO light heavyweight champion, Nathan Cleverly, has admitted he experienced a ‘reality check’ in the wake of his loss to big-hitting Russian, Sergey Kovalev back in 2013, as well as conceding that his [knee-jerk] move up to 200 lbs wasn’t the right one.
Yet the Welshman is keen to keep the past where it belongs and says he is thriving off the challenge of beating Poland’s Andrzej Fonfara in his adopted Chicago backyard tonight, on the huge Stateside platform of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
Cleverly is fully aware he is taking on a dangerous assignment against the Pole, who he claims he picked to fight rather than German WBA (reg) champion, Juergen Braehmer, given that with victory comes the chance of a shot at WBC boss Adonis Stevenson – as well as the increased financial incentives involved , no doubt.
“Initially, I was all set on the Braehmer fight but I thought long and hard about the Fonfara option for a few days and I drifted towards that,” Cleverly said. “He’s more of a dangerous opponent and he hasn’t got the world title but it’s in the big market in America. [I] Thought if I can overcome Fonfara in this tough fight then I’m in the big league then.”
Cleverly was blown away in his last ‘tough fight,’ by dominant champion Sergey Kovalev, who after taking Cleverly’s title in his Cardiff backyard, has gone on to capture 3/4 of the belts at 175 lbs – though the Welshman concedes now with hindsight that perhaps it was a case of too much, too young as far as he was concerned.
“It’s happened so fast for me because I was a young world champion at 24 and maybe [Kovalev] happened a bit too soon. I’ve still got a lot to give in boxing and Fonfara is the perfect opportunity to get back where I belong on the world scene.
“It’s a great atmosphere out there and the pressure’s off as such because you’re not fighting with that home support, I can just enjoy it and let my boxing flow.
“It is exposure wise getting on the big stage. PBC – Premier Boxing Champions – is the modern era of boxing, taking it to a new level and to be part of it, and potentially part of it, is very exciting times.
“You get a few reality checks in boxing and you learn not to look too far ahead. This is the case now and I’m not looking past Fonfara.
“This is an acid, a big test, he’s hard man and a strong and dedicated athlete. I believe I’ve got the tools to beat him and then we’ll look for the world title fights,” he added.
The PBC on Spike card will be screened by Sky Sports in the UK.