Cleverly Feels Win Over Badou Jack Will Secure Andre Ward Shot

By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star

NATHAN CLEVERLY celebrated his last win in Las Vegas gambling on the poker tables at Planet Hollywood.

But this time he is putting his career on the line in the ring as he defends his WBA light-heavyweight title against Badou Jack this weekend at the T-Mobile Arena.

Cleverly, 30, will defend the belt he won last October for the first time against the Swedish-born fighter on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s mega money clash with Conor McGregor.


This clash is the real competitive fight on the card which is headlined by a one-sided mismatch.

Cleverly will face Jack, who held IBF super-middleweight champion James DeGale to a draw in January and beat George Groves in 2015 in a WBC title defence.

But now he is moving up in weight to challenge for the WBA belt and the Welshman insists it is win or bust for his career as he looks to reach the elite level in the sport.

“I would say it’s that crucial now,” said Cleverly, who has lost three of his 33 professional bouts.

“We are at the stage of my career that any defeat could be the end.

“I’m at the highest level and I’m here to stay. Defeat is not an option. I’m all in with this fight because if you win you’re in the big time.

“There are a lot of world champions in boxing but to break through that elite hierarchy, which is what the top fighters love, then I have to win this fight.

“I probably won’t reach this level again if I lose. It’s now or never for me. I’m two-time world champion but before I get out of boxing I want to reach that elite level.”

Cleverly’s use of “all-in” is apt considering he was going all-in on the poker tables here in 2008.

The Welshman claimed a points win against Antonio Baker in an eight-rounder on the undercard of compatriot Joe Calzaghe’s clash with Bernard Hopkins.
Floyd Mayweather throws super-speedy punches in training

And he celebrated by going off on his own to play poker and falling in love with Sin City.

“I didn’t really get a feel for the enjoyment side of Vegas until the day after the fight,” said a relaxed Cleverly as he chatted in his hotel suite at the New York New York hotel overlooking the T-Mobile Arena where he fights this weekend.

“I was staying in the Planet Hollywood hotel, I won my fight and I was on a high, high on life and embracing Vegas life.

“I remember just being on my own and loving it. I entered a few poker tournaments that night. I done OK. I didn’t make the final table but I was enjoying the moment. I didn’t care where I came.

“I like the vibrancy of it. I enjoy the casino side of it because I love the poker tournaments and it is a fight city.

“It’s got everything that I like. It’s got the boxing side of it and the poker. It’s the capital of boxing. I love that side of it.

“If you want to be big in boxing you come to Vegas. This is my seventh time. I came out just before Christmas after my world title win.

“But this time we are here this time strictly on business. This is not about Las Vegas leisure side. It’s all business.

“We have done our work back home and we are maintain that. I can’t be distracted now. We are all in until the fight now.”

Cleverly has been here since Thursday and has been out running along the Strip, dodging the thousands of tourists as he goes, as he sheds the last few pounds to make the light-heavyweight limit.

While this fight will be overshadowed by the hype around the main event, it is still a big one for both fighters as a possible clash with WBA ‘super’, IBF and WBO champion Andre Ward potentially awaits.

“Andre Ward is the elite fighter in the division – one of the best around,” added Cleverly. “He is a special fighter and that type of fighter only comes around once every generation.

“I think Ward is a smart, smart guy in and out of the ring and he knows his weight division is light-heavyweight.

“I think he will sit patiently and consider all options, specifically take a closer note of this fight because ultimately the winner is mandatory for Ward's 'super' title.”

Cleverly is gambling by taking on Jack – who has lost just once in 24 bouts – but the risk is worth the reward should the Welshman claim his 31st career win.

But there will be no poker tournament on Sunday as he has a 12.30pm plane to catch and he hopes to still have the WBA belt in his luggage for that trip.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by giacomino on 08-22-2017

Can't see Cleverly fighting Ward if he gets by Jack. His opposition was mostly horrific before he got exposed by Kovalev the last time he had an alphabet belt.

Comment by DramaShow on 08-22-2017

i'd imagine badou jack will be a class above him

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (2)
Top Headlines Bivol: Barrera is a Tough Test For Me, 90% That He Beats Valera Rey Vargas, Nacho Beristain Likely To Part Ways After Next Bout Hearn To Parker: Joshua Has Glass Jaw? Then Jump on This Fight! Salido: I'd Fight Lomachenko Again, My Fight on 12/9 is Better! Amir Khan Still Screaming, But Finding Success on 'I'm a Celeb' Kovalev: I'm Much Stronger Than I Was in My Last Three Fights Photos: Yuriorkis Gamboa, Jason Sosa - Ready For War in NYC Photos: Sullivan Barrera, Felix Valera - On Weight For Showdown Photos: Kovalev, Shabranskyy - Ready For WBO Title Battle Gradovich With Eye Issues, Withdraws From IBF Eliminator Eddie Hearn Speaks With Tyson Fury, Offers To Guide Career HBO's Peter Nelson: We Have All-Action Fights on This Network Jeff Horn vs. Gary Corcoran Lands on BoxNation LIVE STREAM: Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy Weigh-in From New York Daniel Gonzalez: I'll Give it Everything To Reach Goal of World Title Shabranskyy's Coach is Expecting a 'Fight' With Kovalev Hearn: Anthony Joshua Wants To Do a Job on Joseph Parker News: Tramaine Williams, Sunny Edwards, Rivera Boxing, More Alexander Ustinov vs Manuel Charr Lands on BoxNation Felix Valera, Trainer: Barrera is a Better Fighter Than Kovalev Austin Trout Eyes Return in Early 2018, With "True 154 Pounder" Barrera: Shabranskyy Hits Hard, Definitely Can Beat Kovalev Saunders: Jacobs Praised For 'Brilliant Loss' - You Lost, Got Beat! Carl Frampton: I'm Ready For World Title Fight if it Comes Next Atif Shafiq Assesses Bramall Lane Victory, Plans For 2018 Joshua: Fury Boxed and Ran With Klitschko - I Don't Respect That! Brook Willing To Eat a Kangaroo Testicle To Secure Amir Khan British Board Confirm Tyson Fury's UKAD Hearing For December Jason Sosa Seeks Own Impressive Comeback on Kovalev Card Bob Arum To Hearn: 65-35 is More Than Fair For Joshua-Parker Andre Dirrell vs. Jose Uzcategui Rematch in Play For January 27 Khan is Reportedly Highest Paid Contestant Ever on "I'm a Celeb" Duva: Kovalev Looks Better Physically, Happier, With New Coach Photos: Orlando Salido Putting in Work For Roman Clash WBC Prez: GGG Conquered The Hearts of Mexico, I Was Humbled Joshua Promoter: Our Offer is 'Five Times' Parker's Biggest Purse Salido: I Will Show Why So Many Champions Are Afraid of Me! Hearn Says Anthony Joshua Social Media Mess is 'Major Problem' Tyson Fury's Promoter Gives Statement on UKAD Hearing Delays UK Boxing News: Welborn, Hennon, Connor, Beech, More

Latest Active Forum Threads