Juergen Braehmar V Nathan Cleverly: Preview and Prediction
By Rob Maclean: Tomorrow night Neubrandenburg will play host to the World Boxing Association light heavyweight world title contest between German champion Juergen Braehmar (48 35kos, 2) and Welsh challenger Nathan Cleverly (29 15kos, 3). Inevitably when mentioning this contest it’s hard to imagine a light heavyweight title clash without the names Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson involved. However Jurgen Braehmar holds his version of the WBA strap despite acknowledgement of the governing body that Kovalev is the undisputed champion of that weight class.
For those of you who haven’t seen Braehmar fight it’s utterly undeniable that he isn’t on a level with Kovalev and Stevenson. Yet that doesn’t make this an easy contest for Nathan Cleverly. Braehmar is disciplined, tough and experienced.
Braehmar throws many straight shots and has solid punching power, boasting a 70% knockout rate, albeit against ‘second tier’ fighters. Coming forward Braehmar, out of the southpaw stance, throws one-two combinations and then floats out of range. Defensively he looks to counter with the straight left, slipping shots and holding when need be. He isn’t easily bullied, he’s compact and experienced when it comes to doing enough to win, yet at 37 and having previously opting against a fight with Cleverly, this could be a small step up too much.
Cleverly is almost polar opposite to Braehmar. He’s often a heart over smarts fighter. His two losses to Kovalev and Fonfara saw him completely abandon his game plans, standing and trading with bigger punchers than himself. His ill-advised trip to cruiserweight was a farcical contest, Cleverly injured his right hand and almost handed opponent Tony Bellew a win. Cleverly at his best is a fast and varied puncher, he can pick his punches nicely in combination and has a good chin.
Against Braehmar he’s going to need to push the pace and not let Braehmar settle for picking his shots. This means Cleverly will need to be disciplined and not go back to his strategy of throwing shots, taking shots and then throwing again.
Ultimately the fight comes down to what Cleverly can make of it. Will he stand and trade? This could allow Braehmar to set traps for Cleverly and pick the quality shots. Cleverly needs to outwork Braehmar and remember not to abandon his defences. Braehmar is my pick to win a close decision, particularly with it being a German event, however if everything goes right for Cleverly he could outwork the aging champion.