Cleverly facing big puncher Uzelkov on October 27th

By Boxing News - 09/26/2012 - Comments

By Sean McDaniel: WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (24-0, 11 KO’s) has had little luck in getting big named fighters like Bernard Hopkins to step up to fight him. That was a fight that the 25-year-old Cleverly was hoping he could get in 2012, but it’s not going to be happening. Instead of fighting Hopkins this year, Cleverly has had to settle for a fight with Tommy Karpency, who Cleverly easily beat last February. Cleverly now will be fighting the hard hitting #7 WBO Vyacheslav Uzelkov (27-2, 16 KO’s) on October 27th at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales, UK.

While it’s not really an interesting fight because the 33-year-old Uzelkov has taken losses to Beibut Shumenov and Eduard Gutknecht in the last two years, but it’s still a very dangerous fight because Uzelkov can punch. That’s the one thing that he does well and he can get you out of there in a hurry if he’s able to land his big right hands flush. On the flip side, however, Uzelkov’s work rate is extremely low and all seems to be capable of doing is loading up on single shots in looking for knockouts all the way.

He’d be so much better if he could throw combinations or use his jab with greater frequency like other fighters do, but he simply doesn’t for some reason. Uzelkov appears to be someone that fell in love with his own power early on in his career when he was knocking everyone out in the first couple of rounds, and just never was able to add other tools to his game that he needs to beat the fighters that can handle his power.

Cleverly seems to be able to take a pretty good shot, so it’s highly likely that Cleverly will be able to handle Uzelkov’s big right hand power shots and win by a comfortable margin. But you can’t be sure because Uzelkov can knock anyone in the division if he lands cleanly. Uzelkov hasn’t demonstrated that he KO the good 1st tier fighters, however, as he’s lost to the only two good fighters – Shumenov and Gutknecht – that he’s faced in his career. But that doesn’t mean he can’t KO Cleverly if he lands a shot perfectly on the button.

Cleverly would be wise not to try and go toe-to-toe with Uzelkov early in the fight because that’s when the Ukrainian is most dangerous. Most of his knockouts have come early when he’s throwing with major power. His power drops off dramatically as the fights move into the second half and that’s where Cleverly needs to step it up to win a decision. I doubt that Cleverly can stop Uzelkov, because Cleverly’s power is very average and Uzelkov has been in with better punchers than him and survived. Cleverly just needs to use his jab and keep busy.

Cleverly is a decent fighter, but probably not on the same level as the top guys like Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud and Beibut Shumenov. He’ll be okay as long as his promoter doesn’t put him in with those guys. Believe, there’s a lot of weak opposition at light heavyweight and even a guy like Cleverly is probably good enough to milk his WBO title for a long time. He’s lucked out much in the same way that Joe Calzaghe did by fighting in the super middleweight division during a weak era for the division.

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