Nathan Cleverly: A Lively Month For British Boxers

by Nathan Cleverly »

Well what an interesting few weeks it’s been for British boxing and, if you don’t mind, I’ll start with my own successful defence of the WBO world light-heavyweight title at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles against an American called Shaun Hawk.


Hawk was not supposed to be my opponent but due to political differences my previous opponent, who was a southpaw, pulled out of the fight and Hawk, an orthodox fighter, came in with a week’s notice. I’ve experienced a late change of fighter twice before so at least this wasn’t new territory but it meant an unplanned couple of days training in Freddie Roach’s Wildcard Gym in LA against orthodox sparring partners. All this did me a favour because I want to be noticed in the States and I certainly achieved this with Freddie and his fighters.


Come fight night it’s fair to say the majority of fans were on Hawk’s side but I produced my most polished fight to date, won all eight rounds, dropped him to the canvas twice in round seven and again in the eighth round, and that was enough for the referee to call it a day. I have a mandatory defence of my title next in February or March against the German, Robin Krasniqi, and then the plan is to fight a number of big, world title bouts in America against the other light-heavyweight world champions.


If I can all meet all three  - WBA, WBC and IBF  - next year then I will because I feel now that I’m on a mission to unify all the belts and be the outright, undisputed champion of the world. Certainly the feedback I received in training from Freddie and on the night of the fought from the likes of Oscar de la Hoya fills me with hope for 2013.


I’m not the only British boxer with such dreams, either. With the Klitschko brothers approaching the twilight of their careers, especially Vitali, it will be really interesting to see which of David Price and Tyson Fury emerge as a true contender in the heavyweight division. Maybe the answer will be they fight each other next year. I was impressed by both of them when they fought recently and won comfortably.


Look out for Amir Khan again, now that he’s back to winning ways after his victory on Saturday night in LA. I’d expect one more fight for him and then a shot at regaining the world title. He certainly looked back to his best, though.


George Groves was impressive too in the way he dispatched the tricky American, Glen Johnson, who as everyone knows is no mug. With Carl Froch going great as well there could be another, epic, all-British, super-middleweight clash between the pair of them next year. The way Groves fought makes me convinced he will become a world champion soon.


Not so Ricky Hatton, but at least he won’t die wondering after his comeback fight ended with defeat. At least he now has all the answers and, besides, it was a victory just to get back in the ring after all the abuse he’s put himself through in the past couple of years.


And not so Freddie Flintoff, either. To be fair to Fred he gave it a go because he needed one final adrenalin fix after retiring from cricket. He now knows how hard boxing is. If he planned to carry on and step up a level he would quickly be exposed so my advice to him is walk away from the sport now after a memorable experience.   


So now it’s a short amount of time with family and friends, and then back to training in preparation for professional fight number 26. So far I’m 25 and 0. By this time next year I’m hoping it will read 29 or even 30 and 0. Like I said, I’m on a mission.


By Nathan Cleverly