Wilson: Beating Fonfara would be Cleverly’s best win

Wilson: Beating Fonfara would be Cleverly’s best win

A win over Andrzej Fonfara (27-3, 16KO) would be the biggest of Nathan Cleverly’s (29-2, 15KO) career, according to the Welshman’s trainer.

Darren Wilson has worked with the former WBO world champion since 2011 and he believes that beating Fonfara on American soil in October would eclipse all of his boxer’s previous achievements.

He said: “It would definitely be his biggest win, especially after a loss and coming back with such a great attitude. He’s so focused for this fight and it definitely will be his biggest win.

“It’s the biggest profile fight he could have now. He’s been world champion but this is a massive opportunity for him. We couldn’t turn this down.”

Cleverly’s wins over the likes of Karo Murat, Nadjib Mohameddi, Tony Bellew and Tommy Karpency have grown in stature over time with their subsequent performances. However, Wilson warns that Fonfara is in his prime right at this present moment.

He said: “Fonfara’s confidence is very high now after beating Chavez [Jnr] and he beat Karpency not so long ago, too. He’s right at the top with the WBC and he’s got a lot of momentum.

“So, it’s a massive fight for Nathan. Fonfara is enthusiastic and his style will make an awesome fight for the crowd to watch.”

Wilson, a former amateur champion whose career was halted prematurely by a medical problem, began his professional coaching career with Cardiff’s journeyman Fred Janes. The trainer’s first championship experience then came with ex-European champion Jason Cook in 2009 and developed with Commonwealth belt holder Jamie Arthur.

The relationship between Wilson and Cleverly started in 2011 when he was brought on board by Cleverly’s father and then trainer, Vince. In the aftermath of Cleverly’s first career loss, Wilson accepted an offer to become Head Coach and as they enter their fifth training camp, he’s confident in his bond with the former British, Commonwealth and European champion.

He said: “It’s progressed nicely. I know we had the loss two fights ago [Split Decision in a rematch against Tony Bellew] but we’ve got a good understanding of each other from that experience.

“We’ve got to know each other more, inside and out. We’re working hard in the gym and it’s been an all round better relationship.”

The pair spent the whole of 2014 in the cruiserweight division, attempting to build in to the weight category and make full use of it’s 200lb limit. After two quick stoppage wins over plucky but overmatched opposition, Cleverly’s engine backfired in a grudge rematch with Tony Bellew and he lost a Split Decision. The disappointment, live on Sky Sports Box Office, prompted Cleverly to return to light-heavyweight [175lbs] and he did so with a 24 second knockout of Tomas Mann in May.

The process of training to compete 25lbs higher than usual brings danger of lasting damage to Cleverly’s renowned speed but Wilson is keen to stress that steps have been taken to ensure it returns at the 28-year-old’s natural fighting weight.

He said: “I don’t think it has [had an effect on Cleverly’s speed]. We’ve had three fights at cruiserweight and one at light-heavyweight. If you saw him on the pads in the changing rooms just before his first fight back at light-heavy, you would see that he’s a totally different fighter. It’s an unreal difference.

“He’s 100% back to his natural fighting weight, he’s shown me that in the gym. It’s back to basics for us now, a bit like what he used to do with his dad. We’ll get him as fit as possible and you’ll see the difference.

“He’s made a few mistakes but he’s learnt from them. We know about them and he’s learned and will use it in this fight. Basically, he’s got to get his weight down steady and get the right hydration as well, so he’s 100% to go in the ring. The last week before the weigh-in is vital and the 24 hours of rehydration, too.”

Cleverly’s speed has often been his biggest asset but his team are preparing an all-round game to overcome Fonfara, an offensive aggressor who operates with solid fundamentals at medium-to-long range.

Analysing the match up, Wilson said: “The key to the fight, without giving too much away, is using his all-round assets. A lot of the time in the past, he hasn’t used them all and he’s got too involved.

“That made him champion for years but now, he’s got to be even better. His defence has got to be better, footwork, movement, timing – everything, the whole package. Against world level fighters, you’ve got to be at your best at every single capacity of boxing.

“When he stepped up to world contender stage at cruiserweight, it wasn’t mean to be. We’ve just dusted ourselves off and got on with it.”

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