Cleverly starts sparring as he waits for Fonfara date and venue
Cefn Fforest’s Nathan Cleverly (29-2, 15KO) is waiting patiently for a venue to be confirmed for his date with Andrzei Fonfara (27-3, 16KO) but he’s making the most of his time and started sparring this week.
It’s been six weeks since Matchroom Sport’s Eddie Hearn announced that Cleverly will travel to America in October and the Welshman is still waiting for the finer and final details about the show, which will be a part of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions [PBC] series.
Cleverly said: “I’ve got the fight in my mind now. I’m training hard, ready for the fight in October. We’re waiting for a venue and official date but I’ve got a rough idea, that’s fine for me. I’m bang on it for this fight and I’m very focused.”
On Tuesday, it emerged that the WBC have ordered Fonfara to fight in a final eliminator against Malawi’s Isaac Chilemba to determine the mandatory challenger to belt holder Adonis Stevenson. However, the bout is unlikely to happen as Fonfara is advised by Al Haymon who doesn’t conduct business with Chilemba’s representative Kathy Duva of Main Events.
The Cold War is the main obstacle stopping a unification between Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev, owner of the WBO, WBA and IBF titles. The WBC currently rank Cleverly at 12th in their ratings, which are updated monthly.
Speaking of the situation, Cleverly said: “No, I don’t think it [the proposed eliminator] will have any effect [on his fight with Fonfara]. The Fonfara fight is signed and that’s the plan. I’m pretty sure it’s going ahead because he’s comitted to the fight. So, I’m sure we’ll get it on and put on a great fight.”
“It’s [the WBC ranking] a nice position to be in. I’m back at light-heavy now and I’ve got to prove myself again. Y’know, it’s down to me to break in to the top 10 again and establish myself as one of the leading contenders in the division. It’s in my hands now to prove a point and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
This week, the former WBO world light-heavyweight champion has began sparring and started with Ireland’s Michael ‘Chuck’ Gallagher, a 19-year-old world class amateur who is looking to turn professional, at his base in Bargoed. Gallagher, a heavyweight (91KG) from Finn Valley Boxing Club, travelled to South Wales with his coach Conor Quigley, the father of Jason Quigley who Cleverly sparred extensively in 2012, and shared 18 rounds in three consecutive days.
Cleverly said:”We started [sparring] nice and early, it’s just preliminary stuff and getting going. Conor [Quigley] phoned up and asked if he could bring his boy over, Michael Gallagher. I’m fit now, so I thought “Why not? Lets get the rounds in” and it’s been good stuff. He’s a world class amateur.”
The relationship between the two camps developed through Darren Wilson, Cleverly’s trainer and the son of Irish parents who settled in the Rhondda valleys in the 1970’s. The experience prepared Jason Quigley for the European and World Championships, where he won gold and silver medals before turning professional with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy. Quigley, now based in California, has amassed an undefeated eight fight streak, all knockouts, and he’s establishing himself as one of the world’s best prospects.
Reflecting on the spars, Cleverly said: “We had Jason Quigley over a couple years ago, who was another top class amateur at the time, and he came because he want to learn off a professional like myself. That’s what Michael is doing too, we get good rounds done. These boys have quality timing, sharp movement and they me think and learn. It’s top class stuff and I benefit from it.”
Gallagher has recently been sparring London’s Frank Buglioni, who is due to challenge for the WBA Regular world super-middleweight title next month, as he calls time on a successful amateur career. The Kinletter native has won ten Irish titles at various age categories, a bronze medal at the Youth Olympics in China and he reached the quarter-finals of the World Youth Championships, losing to Cuba’s eventual winner Yordan Hernandez in Bulgaria.