Cleverly Hopes To Bring Glory Back To Welsh Boxing
Nathan Cleverly is planning on bringing the glory days back to Welsh boxing when he faces Tommy Karpency in the latest defence of his WBO light-heavyweight title in Cardiff on Saturday night.
The 25-year-old is preparing for his first fight on home turf in almost four years, and the bout marks the first time a world title contest has been held in the principality since Joe Calzaghe's super-middleweight unification victory over Mikkel Kessler in 2007.
And Cleverly, one of only two British world champions, is desperate to give the 5,000 fight fans at the Motorpoint Arena a night to remember.
He said: "I am really looking forward to the occasion. It is a great weekend of sport with Wales playing England in the Six Nations and Cardiff in the Carling Cup final.
"On a personal level this is a very special occasion for me and for Welsh boxing as it is my homecoming. It is a chance to bring the glory days back to Welsh boxing after a four-year lull.
"As the champion you want to be number one and the leader.
"For me to bring world championship boxing back to Wales is very important. I am thriving on that added pressure of being world champion and the expectation for the weekend.
"It is pretty much a sold-out arena, there has been a great response and it is a boost to know the fans are getting behind me.
"It's great to be involved in such a great weekend of sport and I am looking to put on a world champion performance.
Cleverly, who starts Saturday's contest as the overwhelming favourite against southpaw Karpency, is regularly compared to Calzaghe, with the pair having both been raised in the county borough of Caerphilly.
Calzaghe ended his career undefeated in 46 fights, and Cleverly has already amassed 23 successes in his own unbeaten record.
And while Cleverly is keen to be seen as his own man, he acknowledges that Calzaghe, who is expected to attend Saturday's contest, was a major influence on him.
"Joe has always been a big inspiration," he said.
"He was world champion and when I started boxing he inspired me a lot, being a valley boy like myself and being brought up in similar surroundings.
"It just proved anything is possible and you can do great things.
"You may be from a small valley town in a small country but you can conquer the world. I believe that and Joe has done that, now it's my turn."