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Cleverly vs. Jack: Nathan wants Ward after Badou fight

Andre Ward Floyd Mayweather Jr Nathan Cleverly Badou Jack Cleverly vs. Jack Conor McGregor Mayweather vs. McGregor


By Scott Gilfoid: Nathan Cleverly (30-3, 16 KOs) is hoping to use his title defense against Badou Jack (21-1-2, 12 KO) in 9 days from now on August 26 as a catapult to get him a fight against champion Andre “SOG” Ward. Nathan will be defending his WBA World light heavyweight title against the 33-year-old Jack on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Cleverly, 30, believes his fight with Jack is the most genuine fight on the card. Sadly, Cleverly might be right about that. The Mayweather-McGregor is just an awful mess from top to bottom when it comes to compelling fights. If one is interested in seeing dreadfully one-sided fights where the A-side fighter wins easily, then the Mayweather vs. McGregor card is for you. Cleverly vs. Jack at least has some suspense involved, as it’s difficult to predict who will come out on top. Badou has not looked good in his last 2 fights against James DeGale and Lucian Bute. Jack didn’t lose either of those fights, but he sure as heck didn’t win them in the real sense.

“Mine and Jack’s will be the realest fight on the night and it is a nice position without the huge pressure those two have got,” said Cleverly to skysports.com. “Jack is seasoned, operated at the top level consistently and a winner to push on to elite level, like Ward who is exceptional and pound-for-pound one of the best.”

Cleverly vs. Jack is likely to be the fight of the night on August 26 in terms of excitement and competitiveness. This fight wins the honors of the fight of the night by default. The main event between Mayweather and McGregor is just an awful fight. I still can’t believe Mayweather is actually fighting a UFC guy, and fans are actually going to pay to see this mismatch.

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Here are some of the other undercard fights that Cleverly-Jack has to compete against on August 26 to become the fight of the night:

Shawn Porter vs. Thomas Dulorme

Gervonta Davis vs. Francisco Fonseca

Andrew Tabiti vs. Steve Cunningham

Those are all terrible fights. I hate to say it, but Mayweather has put together a skeleton undercard that looks totally understaffed. The only halfway decent fight on the entire card if the Cleverly vs. Jack card, and I’m including the main event along with it. Mayweather vs. McGregor is the worst fight on the card. It’s just dreadful. More power to Mayweather for pulling off this selection and selling it to the boxing and MMA public, but it’s such a bad fight that it’s not even funny. McGregor really needed to prove himself before fighting Mayweather. The fact that McGregor is getting the bout with Mayweather without having to show that he has any talent by fighting a contender first, it tells me this fight is just a money grab.

Nathan Cleverly won his WBA title recently in beating Juergen Braehmer, 38, by an injured-aided 6th round stoppage on October 1, 2016. The German Braehmer suffered an elbow injury during the fight, and he was forced to retire on his stool after the 6th. Braehmer was winning the fight at the time by the scores 58-56 x 3. Would Braehmer have won if he hadn’t suffered the injury? I’d say that’s a big yes. He was landing the cleaner shots despite Cleverly connecting with a lot of weak shots. Cleverly was using a high volume attack against Braehmer, and it was surprisingly effective to a certain extent. Cleverly was in the fight, but he was definitely losing. However, without the injury to Braehmer, Cleverly likely would have lost the fight.

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Can Badou do what Braehmer was doing in connecting with a few solid shots each round to win a decision over Cleverly? Yeah, I think he can. Badou doesn’t have the punching power to knockout Cleverly the way that Sergey Kovalev did in stopping him in the 4th round on August 17, 2013, but he can win rounds by landing the better shots. Cleverly will be using the same high volume attacking style that worked for him against Braehmer. He has no choice. Cleverly doesn’t hit hard enough to win rounds based on power shots the way that Jack does. Cleverly’s only hope is to outwork Badou, and hope that the judges are impressed enough with his higher work rate to give him a decision win.

”Ward is the ultimate goal for the best in the sport and if the winner of our fight will be mandatory for Ward, that’s where you’d like to head,” said Cleverly in talking about his goal of facing Andre Ward.

It’s too bad there’s no one else for Cleverly to fight that he would have a good chance of beating. He’s not going to defeat Ward. Cleverly’s problem is he lacks power for the 175 lb. division. With the way Cleverly punches, he’s not going to beat any of top fighters or contenders in the division. It’s too bad Cleverly can’t lose some weight and drop down to 168, because he would be a threat to guys like Gilberto Ramirez, Tyron Zeuge and James DeGale.

Ward, 33, has a lot of options for fights right now. He’s been talking about wanting to fight Tony Bellew at cruiserweight, and then move up to heavyweight to take on one of the big names in that weight class like Anthony Joshua. Ward will likely stick around at 175 to fight Cleverly if he comes out on top against Jack. I don’t see Ward electing to defend his IBF, WBA, WBO titles against dangerous contenders like Artur Beterbiev or Dmitry Bivol. There’s no money in those fights, and plenty of danger for Ward. I think he’ll vacate if/when the sanctioning bodies orders him to fight either of them.

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It could be a while though before he’s forced to fight them. Ward might not stick around the light heavyweight division long enough for that to happen. Cleverly is a soft target for Ward, and I can definitely see him taking that fight and using it to possibly setup a fight down the road against Bellew if he fancies it. Bellew is doing a lot of yakking, but I don’t think he’s truly interested in fighting a talent like Ward. It’s a bad match-up for Bellew. I think he’ll go in another direction from Ward.

If Bellew gets royally whipped by Ward, he can forget about a rematch with David Haye. Well, Bellew could still take the rematch with Haye, but the cash for the fight would obviously be less. Why would Haye feel compelled to give Bellew a good cut of the green stuff if he’s still licking his wounds after being thrashed by Ward? With Bellew in a weakened position for the negotiations, Haye could give Bellew a 70-30 take it or leave it offer. Bellew wouldn’t be in a good position to insist for more money. That’s why it’s a heck of a lot smarter for Bellew to take the Haye rematch first before he risks his hide against a talent like Ward. It would be sad to see Bellew trapped against the ropes, taking body shots while doubled over, and the referee stopping the fight like we saw in the recent Ward vs. Kovalev 2 rematch. Ward could do the same thing to Bellew that he did to Kovalev. I’m just saying.

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