CLEV’S COLUMN: MAYBE MY LOSS HAPPENED FOR A REASON
Losing for the first time was the worst night of my career but now I am ready for the biggest and most important fight of my life. In two weeks time, I will rematch my arch enemy Tony Bellew and beat him, again.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t have taken the fight against Sergey Kovalev. It was a dangerous voluntary defence of my WBO light-heavyweight title, I knew that. When I look at the series of events that have gone on since that fight 15 months ago and the total change in my career path, maybe it all happened for a reason.
I changed my promotional outfit, which was a difficult decision at the time. It was a decision I made that I thought was best for my career and I’m happy with what I chose to do. So far, it’s going good and I’ve just done what’s best for me. It was a selfish option but that’s what I had to do. I had to make a decision like that on my own, too.
Moving to Matchroom Boxing and back on Sky Sports, it wasn’t the only big decision I made, I also decided to move up 25lbs to the cruiserweight division. A lot of people thought I was crazy but now, when they see the difference in me on the scales and in the ring, they’re slowly starting to believe again and see what I see.
The majority of people, probably 90% of them, said I was too small for cruiserweight but I trust my own judgment. I didn’t take the decision lightly, I’m honest with myself and I know my body. I feel better being a bit heavier and I’ve definitely got more energy.
Meanwhile, Kovalev has gone on to do his thing, knock people out and defend his WBO title a few times. It’s led him to tonight’s massive unification fight with the legendary Bernard Hopkins, IBF and WBA champion.
It’s an interesting fight and an excellent match-up of polar opposite styles. Kovalev is the new breed and Hopkins is the old school… I think new blood takes over with too much force.
Hopkins is probably just looking at Kovalev as a one-dimensional puncher. There’s a reason he’s taken this fight, maybe he sees something there that we don’t. He’s not Floyd Mayweather but Kovalev can box a bit, too – good timing, sharp accuracy and he can bang very hard, you can’t prepare for until you get hit.
I’d advise Hopkins to just be himself, box and do what he does because that’s his best chance. Hopkins is a master at craft and avoiding shots, holding and spoiling – he can try those tactics but I can’t see it being enough.
It’s hard to write off Hopkins but his legs will naturally slow as he comes closer to being 50 [years old]. Kovalev is a good finisher and once he hurts an opponent, he normally gets the job done then. If Hopkins gets hurt, he might mess Kovalev about for a bit but he will be finished in the end. We will see…
– Nathan Cleverly.
#CleverlyBellew2 will take place at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on Saturday 22nd November, live on Sky Sports Box Office (Channel 731) and Sky Sports HD Box Office (Channel 752). The event broadcast will start at 6:00pm and there are repeat viewings on Sunday 23rd November at 9:00am and 4:00pm. Up until Midnight on Friday 21st November, the event is priced at £16.95/€21.95 across all forms of booking.