Badou Jack: I’m going to knockout Nathan Cleverly
By Scott Gilfoid: Former WBC super middleweight champion Badou “The Ripper” Jack (21-1-2, 12 KOs) plans on becoming the second fighter to knockout WBA World light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (30-3, 16 KOs) this Saturday night in their title fight on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Cleverly-Jack will be on the televised portion of the Showtime pay-per-view card. It’s not exactly a PPV worthy fight, but the entire undercard appears to have been done on the cheap despite the huge money that will be pouring in from the boxing and MMA fans that will be purchasing the fight on PPV.
It’s a difficult fight to predict, as Jack didn’t look so great in his last 2 fights against James DeGale and Lucian Bute. Both fights were scored draws. Bute and DeGale fought well enough to deserve wins in the minds of a lot of boxing fans. I had Jack winning both fights, but he won them by a razor-thin margin in my scoring. I wasn’t impressed with what I saw from Jack. He didn’t throw enough punches in either of those fights to make it a clear win. DeGale got the better of Jack in the first 6 rounds, and he even knocked him down. Jack came roaring back in the last 5 rounds to dominate and knock DeGale down. It was too close to call. I can understand why the judges scored it a draw.
Jack, 33, isn’t coming into the fight with Cleverly with a good head of steam, even though he feels he should have won both fights. The judges gave Jack a 12-round disqualification win over Bute after the fact when the DC Commission changed the results following post-fight tests showing that Bute had tested positive for the banned substance Ostarine.
“Right now I’m just excited to be here in front of the fans. I can’t wait to put on a show Saturday night. I’m going to knock Nathan Cleverly out,” said Jack in making his prediction for Saturday.
So there it is. Badou is predicting a knockout victory over Cleverly on Saturday night. Badou’s last satisfactory performance was against George Groves in beating him by a 12-round split decision on September 12, 2015. Jack fought well in the first 6 rounds, but he wore down in the last half and Groves was able to make a late rally to narrow the scores. It was still by far the best performance from Jack since his win over Anthony Dirrell on April 24, 2015. I’m not sure if Jack is starting to deteriorate as a fighter or what, but he hasn’t looked good in 2 years and that’s problematic for him going into Saturday’s contest with volume puncher Nathan Cleverly.
“I just told him welcome to the division. He’s going to find out the hard way. I’m going to give him a rude introduction to the division and show him how a world champion does it,” said Cleverly.
It’s impossible to know what kind of performance Cleverly will put in. He’s an up and down type of fighter, who fights well some of the time, but who looks dreadful at other times. In Cleverly’s last 4 fights, he’s lost 2 of them to Andrzej Fonfara and Tony Bellew. Those were decision defeats for Cleverly. His only wins in the last 3 years have come against these fighters:
Juergen Brahmer – 6th round injury stoppage
Tomas Man – TKO 1
Alejandro Emilio Vilori – TKO 4
Shawn Corbin – TKO 2
Let’s be honest here. The only good fighter that Cleverly has beaten in the last 3 years was Braehmer, and he probably would have lost that fight too if the German fighter hadn’t suffered an elbow injury that caused the fight to be stopped after round 6. Braehmer was ahead on the scorecards by the scores 58-56, 58-56 and 58-56. Nathan was out-landing Braehmer, but his lack of power made it difficult for the judges to give him a lot of rounds in the fight.
Cleverly-Jack will play out much like the Braehmer vs. Cleverly fight, with Cleverly landing more shots, but Jack winning rounds due to his superior punching power. For Cleverly to beat Jack, he’s going to need to average between 90 to 100 punches thrown per round for the entire fight. If Cleverly can do that, it’s quite possible that he’ll wear Jack down in the second half of the contest and win the fight.
I think Jack will do well in the first 6 rounds of the fight due to his power advantage and his body punching. If Cleverly is still around by the second half of the fight, he could take over from that point on if Jack gasses out. Nathan will need to fight a heck of a lot harder than James DeGale did in the second half of his recent fight against Jack on January 14. DeGale faded badly in the last half of the fight, and this enabled Jack to come on, win rounds and knock DeGale down in the 12th.
The winner of the Jack vs. Cleverly fight is going to have his hands full in needing to defend against #1 WBA mandatory challenger Dmitry Bivol. The World Boxing Association already ordered Cleverly to defend against Bivol, but they’re letting him make a voluntary defense first against Jack. It’s going to be asking a lot of either of these fighters to take on the younger Bivol, who comes from Russia and he hits very hard. Bivol can do a lot of the same things that Jack can do in terms of body punch, box and apply constant pressure, but his power is a step above. It’s not a good match-up for Badou, and not a good one for Cleverly. The winner of the Cleverly-Jack fight might end up losing the WBA title straightaway once they meet up with Bivol. I don’t see Jack running from the Bivol threat, as he doesn’t have a lot of other options if he gives up the WBA belt. Jack won’t get a title shot against WBC champion Adonis Stevenson anytime soon, and it’s hard to know what IBF, WBA, WBO light heavyweight champion Andre Ward will do. He might give up his titles or he could stay and defend them. Jack will have a tough time if he must fight Bivol or Artur Beterbiev. Those are legitimate light heavyweights. It would be a tough ask for him.