Credit where credit’s due, most fighters in Nathan Cleverly’s position would avoid a showdown with such a fierce-punching, and unbeaten, rival. There may well be unanswered questions over Sergey Kovalev’s endurance, but why worry about endurance when concussive power in both hands negates the need for such a trait? And who’s to say that the Sergey couldn’t destroy opponents all night long if necessary?
The cold war’s over and Russia’s weapons are no longer steeped in mystery, the world’s well aware of the destructive capabilities of this particular piece of Russian hardware, and it’s even based in the United States of America! One may argue that Sergey’s rise through the ranks is a result of careful selection of opponents but in all fairness, his opponents are exactly that, opponents – they certainly didn’t prepare to help Sergey notch up a knockout rate of above 83%.
To look a little further into the quality of opposition, what did actually happen when Sergey Kovalev stepped up in class and challenged a seasoned pro whom had recently tangled with Tavoris Cloud and, what many spectators feel, won – Gabriel Campillo was, undoubtedly, a test for Sergey. For Sergey it was business as usual and Campillo, despite being accustomed to mixing in the higher echelons of the fighting society, fell victim to Kovalev’s crushing power that was delivered in its typical, sharp and relentless fashion. For all Campillo’s heart, skills and experience, he had nothing that would deter Kovalev from the path leading to the top of the light-heavyweight division.
To survive in the boxing business for any length of time one has to be somewhat of a shrewd operator and I suspect this is exactly why the artful, old fox, Bernard Hopkins, decided to stall on negotiations regarding a bout with Sergey Kovalev, according to Kovavlev. Sergey’s proving himself as a world class fighter but as yet, his profile’s not quite high enough to be sprinkled with star dust so to possibly lose to such a fighter, it could significantly dim the light emanating from already established boxing stars. This in no way reflects badly on Bernard Hopkins, he’s just the sort of fighter whom likes know his opponent well, so he can craft a solid strategy with which to beat his opponent. It would appear that Bernard merely wishes to see more of Sergey before deciding on how best to defeat him, but it also lends credence to the fact that Sergey Kovalev presents a genuine threat to the best of the best.
Here’s where things get a little ‘old school’ with regard to Nathan Cleverly. Forget the business side of things – the financially driven manoeuvres and the profile dependent decisions – Nathan has a genuine fighter mentality and wants to prove to himself, and to the world, on August 17th at Cardiff, that he is the best fighter in the division. Never mind who’s who in boxing, if questions are being asked as to who’s the best light-heavyweight in the world today because some not-so-secret Russian hardware’s knocking everyone out, then let’s deal with it and make things clear to the world – this seems to be the Cleverly camp’s take on the matter. It’s a bold display of confidence and a refreshing lack of consideration to the consequences of losing, and these go together to show Nathan Cleverly as a true warrior of the sport… facing a clear and present danger, in the form of the undefeated Sergey Kovalev.