By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
WBO champion Nathan Cleverly is convinced the bookies have got it all wrong. Cleverly is happy to be considered the underdog in his clash against Sergey Kovalev.
But the unbeaten Welshman is happy to be the underdog in his sixth defense at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena tonight.
He faces rugged Russian Sergey Kovalev, who has stopped 19 of his 21 victims with 18 of those falling inside the first three rounds.
No wonder, then, that Kovalev is odds-on favourite against 26-year-old Cleverly, despite the contest taking place on the champ’s home turf.
But light-heavyweight Cleverly said: “The fact that I am not the favourite is providing me with a real kind of inspiration.
“I have been expected to win in my last couple of fights, so the fact I am not this time has lifted the pressure.
“It’s no surprise to see Kovalev made the favourite – he’s coming to Wales with a lot of hype and a big knockout ratio.
Sergey Kovalev is the odds-on favourite to beat Cleverly Sergey Kovalev is the odds-on favourite to beat Cleverly
“However, I’m enjoying that. It’s keeping me on my toes and motivated and giving me that extra spark to perform on the biggest night of my life.”
Tonight’s contest will be a massive test for Cleverly, who has built up an impressive 26-0 record since joining the paid ranks eight years ago.
Kovalev, 30, has won all but one of his 22 fights – the exception was a draw. But Cleverly said: “My maturity is going to allow me to stick to my game plan.
“I feel my experience over the last couple of years fighting at world title level is invaluable. I’m more focused.
“I’ll not be going into it recklessly, like in the past when I’ve been too eager to excite and impress.
“I’ve got to keep it tight and be clever, be smart. I may have to weather the storm early but I’ll stick to my plan.”
PREDICTION: I’m taking Cleverly to win on points.Tags: Nathan Cleverly , Sergey Kovalev , Cleverly-Kovalev , Cleverly vs Kovalev