The hype surrounding Nathan Cleverly’s second defence of his WBO light-heavyweight title has been an intense rollercoaster of drama, relentlessly grabbing the headlines. But one man who’s stayed focused throughout is ironically the man it’s based around.
Many have tipped Cleverly to topple the challenge of Tony Bellew but Wales’ 11th world champion has refused to become complacent and he’s well aware of his opponents attributes.
Cleverly observed, “He’s obviously got to be respected. He’s unbeaten in 16 fights, so he’s definitely got to be respected. He’s got a reputation as a good puncher, a big puncher which he probably is and as his record suggests. I’ve got no issue with that, I’ve took big shots, come through them and kept fighting before. That’s no issue for me.”
24-year-old Cleverly was British and Commonwealth champion two years ago while 29-year-old Bellew has those titles now. Despite proving himself at an advanced level
than Bellew has so far, Cleverly is aware of what it takes to progress to world level and respects the challenge Bellew is attempting.
“He’s definitely got to be respected and that’s why I’m taking the fight. It’s a fight that will get me motivated and I’ll prove I’m a worthy world champion against a very hungry fighter.”
There’s been many verbals fired at Cleverly from Bellew but he’s refusing to bite the bait in order to remain an undefeated world champion.
“It could be a danger of becoming emotionally attached but at the end of the day, I have to be a professional and I’ve got to fight however gets the best results for me. I think emotional attachment won’t affect my performance because I won’t get attached, I understand bad blood can be part of the business and it’s in his character to shout his mouth off. But regardless of what’s been said, in the ring is where it matters.”
One factor which Cleverly thinks will play a vital part in the bout is that he’s the more natural and fluent boxer out of the pair while Bellew can over-think his game.
“I don’t think overly tactically, I know he thinks tactically, he plans everything and every punch he throws and he thinks a lot about things. But I don’t think as much as that when I’m involved in boxing.”
“I don’t plan every single shot that I’m going to throw. I can flow, I’m confident enough to leave them go and I know that’s going to be good enough to beat Tony Bellew.”