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Nathan Cleverly retires after losing to Badou Jack

Image: Nathan Cleverly retires after losing to Badou Jack

By Jeff Aranow: Following his 5th round knockout loss to Badou Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) last Saturday night, Nathan Cleverly (30-4, 16 KOs) announced his retirement on his social media site. Only 30-yeaars-old, Cleverly said he had “Too many miles” on him from his 12-year pro career. Cleverly lost his WBA World light heavyweight title in the defeat to Jack.

Retirement is a logical move by Cleverly, who has lost 3 out of his last 5 fights since 2014. The odds of Cleverly ever winning another world title are quite low. He couldn’t make 168, and he already tried and failed in fighting at cruiserweight.

It’s a good move for Cleverly to retire. With the talented champions now holding belts at 175, he wouldn’t have had any luck against them. When Andre Ward gives up his IBF, WBA and WBO belts, dangerous punchers Dmitry Bivol, Artur Beterbiev, Sullivan Barrera and Oleksandr Gvozdyk will scramble for the vacated titles. Cleverly would have been a sitting duck for any of those fighters. Those guys are all punchers, and Cleverly wouldn’t have the tools to compete against any of them.

Cleverly and Jack fought on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The fight was televised on Showtime pay-per-view. Jack, 33, punished Cleverly with shots to the head in the 5-round beat down he gave the Welsh fighter. Cleverly’s nose started bleeding badly in round 4, and he looked a mess by the 5th. It must have been difficult for him to take that kind of punishment with his nose being injured. Cleverly wasn’t even throwing punches back at Jack in the last 2 rounds. He was just taking a real shellacking from Jack.

Cleverly took a lot of hard punishment in his losses to Andrzej Fonfara and Sergey Kovalev. In Clevery’s previous fight against Juergen Braehmer, he was hit with a number of hard shots from the 38-year-old Braehmer. Cleverly was losing the fight through 6 rounds by a 58-56 score on all 3 of the judges’ scorecards. The only reason Cleverly won the fight was because of Braehmer suffering an arm injury.

Nathan accomplished a lot more than most contenders in the 175 lb. division will ever accomplish in their careers. Cleverly is a 2-time light heavyweight champion. He held the WBO light heavyweight title from 2011 to 2013. During Cleverly’s 2-year title reign, he defeated Tony Bellew, Robin Krasniqi, Tommy Karpency and Aleksy Kuziemski. Nathan lost his WBO title to Sergey Kovalev in getting stopped in the 4th round on August 17, 2013.

In a questionable move, Cleverly chose to go up in weight to cruiserweight in 2014 in response to his loss to Kovalev. That was not a smart move by Cleverly, as he didn’t have the power at light heavyweight. It was only obvious that Cleverly would be too weak for the cruiserweight division. Nathan moved back down to light heavyweight following a 12 round split decision defeat to Bellew in their rematch on November 22, 2014.

Things haven’t been better for Cleverly at 175. He’s lost 2 out of his last 4 fights since moving back down in weight. When it appeared that Cleverly’s career was over, his promoter Eddie Hearn got him a world title shot against WBA light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer last October. Surprisingly, Cleverly was able to beat Braehmer to win his WBA title, ut only because the German fighter was injured.

It’s a smart move for Cleverly to retire now. If he had stuck around the sport, he would have taken needless punishment from the other top fighters. Cleverly likely would have become a gatekeeper type of fighter. There’s no money in being that kind of fighter.

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