Cleverly set for American date with Fonfara

Cleverly set for American date with Fonfara

Cefn Fforest’s Nathan Cleverly (29-2, 15KO) will return to world level in his next fight when he faces Poland’s Andrzei Fonfara (27-3, 16KO).

The 28-year-old, a former WBO world champion, will fight in America for the third time in October, though an exact date and host city is yet to be confirmed.

Cleverly was expected to eventually face Juergen Braehmer (46-2, 34KO) in September but Sauerland Promotions have confirmed that Cleverly opted against the option, having recently returned to light-heavyweight with a 24 second knockout of Tomas Man in May.

On Friday, Braehmer’s handlers took to Twitter to express their ‘disappointment’ at Cleverly’s decision to turn down the ‘world title’ fight. However, many observers disregard the status of Braehmer’s belt amidst an age of increasing confusion with ‘world titles’.

The WBA operate a two-tier title system and the German southpaw owns the organisation’s secondary title, uninspiringly named a ‘Regular’ title by the governing body itself. Russia’s unified world champion Sergey Kovalev, who handed Cleverly his first ever defeat in 2013, currently owns the WBA’s most regarded title, known as the ‘Super’ belt.

In response to Sauerland’s statements, Matchroom Sport’s Eddie Hearn responded by announcing Cleverly’s fight with Fonfara.

Despite not owning a title, Fonfara is regarded as one of the premier light-heavyweights and he boasts the backing of America’s mysterious ‘advisor’, Al Haymon.

Fonfara has appeared on Showtime three times but he’s expected to headline a Premier Boxing Champions [PBC] show, a series that was set up by Haymon earlier this year. Many PBC shows are broadcast on Columbia Broadcasting System [CBS], the terrestrial television channel that offers a huge reach to America’s 300m population, which would give unprecedented exposure for Cleverly.

The only common opponent the pair have shared is Tommy Karpency, who Cleverly beat first in 2012, winning every round of a WBO title defence in Cardiff. In Karpency’s next fight, he faced Fonfara in seven eventful rounds. After twice visiting the canvas in the opener, Karpency battled back and began to dominate Fonfara, only for the Pole to wrestle his opponent to the floor. Karpency clearly suffered an injury from the tackle and the referee incorrectly ruled it a Technical Knockout for Fonfara.

In Fonfara’s next fight, he came from behind to overcome former WBA world champion Gabriel Campillo in nine rounds. Nine months later, Fonfara dropped WBC world and lineal champion Adonis Stevenson and pushed him all of the way, only to lose a competitive contest on points. Fonfara scored the best win of his career in his last contest, dominating and dropping Mexico’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr.

After nine intensive rounds, Fonfara forced the former middleweight world champion to retire on his stool. Although based in Chicago and adopting America as his homeland, Fonfara is a European like Cleverly and neither boxer will boast home advantage – a factor Braehmer would have enjoyed in Germany, a country which has had a questionable record for fair officiating in the past.

Cleverly’s decision to face Fonfara is another twist in his tale with Braehmer, which started in 2011 when Braehmer withdrew from a mandatory title defence of his then WBO strap just three days before their scheduled fight in London. The sanctioning body, who weren’t convinced with Braehmer’s reasons, subsequently stripped the champion, who has a history of similar behavior.

On his first trip to America in 2008, Cleverly recorded his 12th win by winning every round against Antonio Baker in Las Vegas on the undercard of Joe Calzaghe’s super fight with Bernard Hopkins. He returned in 2012, taking eight rounds to stop Shawn Hawk at Los Angeles’ Staples Centre in a late notice defence of his title.

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