At a time when the public image of boxing was being thoroughly dragged through the mud, following their WBO world light-heavyweight title fight Nathan Cleverly and Tommy Karpency reminded many that respect is the fundamental element of the sport.
In the post-fight press conference both were keen to praise their opponent, an all too often rarity in other sports.
Cleverly opened, “I think Tommy showed tonight why he’s sparred world class fighters. He’s very tough, he knows his way around the ring and he’s very relaxed. He’s got good power and he’s a tough fighter.”
“It shows that at world level you can’t take anyone for granted and Tommy showed that tonight, he was very tough, if I take my eye off the game then someone like Tommy can punish me. It’s important that I kept my eye on the game and at this level it’s crucial.” he continued.
“He was probably the toughest to fight over the 12 round distance. There’s a lot of fighters that are tough over the first 6 rounds, into the championship rounds they wilt, they go and fold. Tommy showed that he’s a 12 round fighter and at world level that’s the difference.”
Even though he was the away fighter, Karpency earned the admiration of the Welsh fight fans with his refreshingly respectful approach pre and post fight. The American was grateful and commented, “I’ve travelled a few different places and I’ve been absolutely well received here. I actually enjoyed walking to the ring to hear the Welsh crowd cheering for Nathan, it’s a great experience and I’d love to come back here and fight again.”
He added, “It’s a great fight community here, the fans are into the fight and they also seem to be knowledgeable as well. They have a great champion, I was highly impressed by Nathan as well, it’s been a great experience all around.”
Despite not being given a round by any of the 3 judges, Karpency wasn’t bitter and he backs his conqueror to compete with the absolute elite of the division.
Karpency said, “No fighter I have been in with could walk over Nathan. After being in the ring with him for 12 rounds I believe that he could fight with anybody in the world.”
“He’s in top condition and he keeps a high work rate, he takes a good shot, I hit him with some good shots, he sucked them up when a lot of my shots have put guys down.”
“I think he can compete with the likes of anybody in the world, I think he would make a good fight for Hopkins or Dawson right now. He’s ready for anyone.”
In front of a sell-out crowd of 5,000, it was Cleverly’s first fight in Wales for 4 years. He last boxed in Wales on the undercard of Joe Calzaghe’s super-middleweight unification with Mikkel Kessler at the Millennium Stadium in front of 55,000 fans.
Thankful for the support he received on Saturday, Cleverly said, “Regardless of the opponent tonight, it was the homecoming! That was what it was about for me – returning home after 4 years since we’ve had world title boxing in Wales.”
“The timing was absolutely spot on tonight to return home as world champion, the fans had value for their money tonight; it went the full distance so well done to Tommy on that.”
“Tommy came up to me in the end and said I’m capable of beating any opponent in the world, that was a great compliment from my opponent.”