Cleverly vs. Brähmer: Does Nathan deserve this fight?

By Boxing News - 08/14/2016 - Comments


By Scott Gilfoid: Nathan Cleverly will be getting a world title shot in less than two months against WBA World light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer on October 1 at the Neubrandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. Cleverly (29-3, 15 KOs) isn’t ranked in the top 15 by any of the sanctioning bodies right now, and it’s really not surprising given that he’s lost two out of his last three fights in the last two years.

If you consider a world title shot being the equivalent of going to the Super Bowl in the NFL, then Cleverly is going to that championship game off the back of a loss to Andrzej Fonfara rather than a victory.

That’s not a great thing for boxing, is it? It makes you wonder whether this is a sport or a popularity contest or a contest where a champion handpicks beatable opposition rather than facing the dangerous top 15 contenders like #3 WBA Artur Beterbiev, #5 WBA Joe Smith Jr., #2 Andre Ward, #1 Dmitry Bivol or #4 Sullivan Barrera.

Cleverly, 29, lost his WBO light heavyweight title to Sergey Kovalev in 2013 in getting stopped in the 4th round. Since that time, Cleverly lost to Tony Bellew and Fonfara. Cleverly’s only wins in that time period came against over-matched opposition in Tomas Mann, Alejandro Emilio Valori and Shawn Corbin.

You would have to think that if Cleverly loses this fight to Braehmer, then this could very well be the last time that he gets a world title shot. Braehmer (48-2, 35 KOs) is making it easy for Cleverly by picking him out in a voluntary defense rather than waiting for him to work his way to the No.1 spot. Braehmer, 37, probably can’t afford to wait because the WBA’s rankings has improved enough to where Braehmer is surrounded by very good fighters. Braehmer might be able to beat Bivol, but you have to figure he’ll lose badly to Beterbiev once the WBA gets their rankings straightened out and inserts him at the No.1 spot rather than Bivol.

If Braehmer doesn’t fight Cleverly now, he’s likely going to get beaten in the near future and then a fight between them would have less meaning. To be sure, Braehmer and Cleverly could fight for one of the trinket titles, but I don’t know if that will impress the boxing public if the fight is adertized with them fighting over some obscure strap. That’s why it was important for the Braehmer vs. Cleverly fight to happen now rather than later.

It’s been over a year since Braehmer last fought his mandatory challenger when the WBA inserted Robin Krasniqi at No.1. It was a weird decision on the WBA’s part, because Krasniqi hadn’t beaten anyone of talent to get to the No.1 spot. It was all obscure opposition.

Cleverly is still about as good as he ever was. It’s just that he’s now being matched against better opposition instead of the fodder he’d been fighting.