Is Nathan Cleverly the next pound-for-pound superstar?
Nurten Sen: If you were fortunate enough to have switched over from the circus at Madison Square garden and watched Nathan Cleverly vs. Robin Krasniqi, you might already know what I’m goıng to talk about. I noticed that some writers have suddenly become very quiet about Cleverly (26-0, 12kos), more specifically the ones who doubted him.
Had they tuned in, or later watched online even (as I’m certain they have, if they actually like boxing), then they couldn’t look you in the eye and honestly say that the young Brit hasn’t sent a major message to the boxing world. One might say the lack of analysis of his performance by naysayers indicates to how much of a degree they are concerned, and if they have a racial or nationalistic axe to grind then I think this is how they should feel. Concerned, very concerned.
If you don’t know who Cleverly is yet he is 26 years old, 6’2’’, British, and has a degree in mathematics. He grew up in semi-rural Wales, in the United Kingdom. He was taught to box by his father from the age of 11 before going to train with Enzo Calzaghe (father of legendary undefeated multi weight undisputed world champion Joe) then returning to his father’s sole charge as he plies his trade today. He is the current WBO Light-heavyweight champion and has previously held the British, Commonwealth and European titles and I am predicting a very bright future for this young man. Why?
First some simple maths: On Saturday he threw 1047 punches. He maintained a similar tempo throughout the fight, if anything raising the pace once he got warmed up. How many fighters in the bigger weight classes have you ever seen do that? I can only think of one, and he never lost. Rather unsurprisingly, Joe Calzaghe spent several years sparring with Cleverly. One could be forgiven for wondering how intense some of those sparring sessions could have been if they were both throwing punches every 2 seconds. 43 people asked Calzaghe how to beat a man that throws a thousand punches a fight, and none of them could provide an adequate answer. Who could say that Cleverly’s style isn’t similar to that of Calzaghe? If a fighter attempted to outwork him that would mean they would have to throw twice as many punches as they are used to doing for an entire twelve rounds.
So do you try to knock him out? On Saturday for sure Cleverly got tagged a few times. He wasn’t however hurt at all, so does it even matter? We’ve seen Cleverly himself talking to the press this week about having sparred heavyweights Tyson Fury and Derek Chisora, then describing how his chin is his best asset because (6’9’’) Fury and (250lb) Chisora couldn’t hurt him even as he stood toe to toe and traded with them. It would seem that they have tried and couldn’t hurt him, so who could possibly knock him out in the light-heavies? Would Bernard Hopkins? The fact remains that he hasn’t knocked out anybody for years.
More likely, Hopkins would do exactly what he did the last time he fought somebody with the kind of output anywhere near Cleverly’s he just tried to spoil and pop-shot, but he he got hit more times than in any of his other fights. Hopkins is even older now, and Cleverly isn’t 36 and fighting his second last ever bout after having come up a weight division for the fight. Cleverly applies constant pressure on his opponents and his level of focus and concentration is very impressive. Even after he gets tagged he looks sharp and in control, looking his opponent right in the eyes. He has the full repertoire of shots and is always looking to throw.
So the question remains… If you cant out-punch him, and you can’t knock him out, and you cant spoil him, just how can you beat him? Until then, and whoever he fights, my money is on Cleverly. He is now potentially 3 fights away from a genuine P4P ranking, and I don’t see anyone around at the mınute that can stop him. He himself has talked about moving up to cruiserweight in the future, and who’s to say he couldn’t even go up to heavy one day? Roy Jones did it. Cleverly is also only an inch shorter than David Haye and a similar height to several other top heavies. If Cleverly stays in the gym and focused, there’s nothing, in my opinion, stopping him from eventually eclipsing the achievements of any other previous British fighter. If you can suggest a decent game plan to beat him I would like to hear it.
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