Clev claims early win on light-heavyweight return and targets Braehmer

Clev claims early win on light-heavyweight return and targets Braehmer

Cefn Fforest’s Nathan Cleverly (29-2, 15KO) re-introduced himself to the light-heavyweight division with a dominant victory over Czech Republic’s Tomas Man (13-9-1, 8KO) at the O2 Arena in London. The Welshman needed less than 30 seconds to dispatch of his overmatched opponent in what was little more than an exercise to ensure that he could return to the 175lb division healthily. Cleverly pinned Man on the ropes within seconds and rapidly fired body shots to Man’s softer looking torso. A left to the ribcage folded Man and he collapsed to the canvas, making no effort to return upright as referee Jeff Hinds counted to 10. The scheduled eight rounder was Cleverly’s first outing since the ‘calculated gamble’ to cruiserweight, where he suffered a disappointing Split Decision defeat to his bitter enemy Tony Bellew in November. It’s very likely that the 28-year-old will challenge Juergen Braehmer (46-2, 34KO) for the WBA Regular world light-heavyweight title in Germany on 5 September. Cleverly said: “It’s been provisionally agreed. We’ve got to finalise little bits here and there but I’m pretty sure we’re good to go. Hopefully we can make it an absolute final agreement now.” The pair have history dating back to 2011 when Braehmer withdrew from a mandatory defence against Cleverly on just three day’s notice, subsequently resulting in the WBO stripping Braehmer and upgrading Cleverly from interim to full champion. Speaking of their past, Cleverly said: “I’d like to think he’ll take the fight this time and I hope he does. He kind of avoided me the first and second time around. We’ve got a lot of history and it would be nice to get him in the ring and see who is the best man. “I’m hoping he’s up for the fight. He may look at it and see that I’ve slipped a bit because I was undefeated before. He might look at it like that and take encouraging positives. “I’ve got no animosity towards Braehmer, he’s been a good champion in the past and he’s a good champion at present. I’ve got respect for the guy. He was obviously not in the right place to take me on four years back. Mentally, he probably didn’t feel up to the job. I would be disappointed if he didn’t go through with it this time. As a champion and with our history, we should get this fight on now.” Since then, Braehmer has signed with Sauerland Event, winning the European title and defending his WBA bauble on four occasions – including stoppage wins over Swansea’s Enzo Maccarinelli and Robin Krasniqi, who Cleverly out-pointed in 2013. Cleverly said: “He’s the same kind of fighter that he was in 2011, maybe a little bit more smarter. He doesn’t seem as reckless as he was years ago, he’s more shrewd and he knows how to win the fights, get through them. “I think it’s down to me now and seeing what Nathan Cleverly turns up. Can it be the Nathan Cleverly of old with energy and sharpness? That’s the one that needs to turn up to beat Juergen Braehmer. Anything less and he could get away with it.” The former WBO champion, one of just 12 boxers from Wales to claim the ultimate honour, will be aiming to become the first ever Welshman to lose a world title and regain another. Cleverly concluded: “I’m older now, more mature and I’ve got more experience. You definitely become smarter, you use the experience. Maybe you lose a bit of fire but that’s not a bad thing, you can use it to your advantage and become a more clever fighter, not be so reckless and not get hit as much, win easier. “I feel in a position that I can do that now and it’s a matter of performing on the night. If I perform at a level I can do, my ultimate level, I win.”

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