Karpency Vows: Beating Cleverly Will Prove That I Belong

You’ll struggle to find a more courteous or engaging character than American WBO World Light-Heavyweight title challenger Tommy Karpency. However, don’t expect the 26 year old Pat Nelson managed southpaw to bring his manners when he arrives as a guest at WBO monarch Nathan Cleverly’s homecoming bash at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena on Saturday.

Young, fresh and frisky, and yet to be stopped in 24 pro gigs, the Yankee challenger seemed full of ambition when he spoke to boxing writer Glynn Evans before departing for the UK last Saturday afternoon.

See Cleverly v Karpency live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546). To join go to

Tell us a little about your hometown of Adah, Pennsylvania.

It’s got a population of barely one hundred people so it’s about as small a town as you can get. It was built around coal mining and, when that industry was booming, the population was over a thousand but then they closed the mines and everybody left. It goes without saying that everybody knows everybody else.

Do you have a trade outside of boxing?

Yes sir. I also work as a registered psychiatric nurse at the Union Town Hospital. Basically I care and administer medication to folk with mental difficulties; split personalities, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, drug addicts. It’s extremely satisfying. As best they can, my employers organise my three 12 hour shifts every week to cater for my training schedule. Of course, it makes boxing difficult but that’s the hand I was dealt and I just get on with it.

When did you first become interested in boxing?

Boxing is in the family. My Dad, Tom Senior, had a heck of a lot of lot of amateur bouts in the 50s and 60s. He became a school teacher but once he stopped boxing he opened a gym.

So my father has always trained fighters and I’ve been around boxing since the day I was born. My father, who’s now 66, has trained me my whole life. I’d have been in the gym since the age of five or six, hitting the hand mitts or smashing the heavy bag. I had my first at 14 or 15 but didn’t really start taking the sport seriously until I was about 18.

However, at high school I did a lot of Olympic style wrestling over a period of three years. It’s very popular around these parts and it’s helped me a lot tremendously with the boxing. It’s another one-on-one competitive sport. It builds confidence and, particularly, helps you with moves fighting inside, plus balance and co-ordination.

I turned professional when I was 20 years old. My younger brother Jeremiah, who’s just 21, is also a pro; 5 and 0 as a heavyweight.

Since debuting in May 2006, you’ve been victorious in 21 of 24 pro contests (one draw, 14 stoppage wins), won and successfully defended the WBA Fedecentro title and earned a number 11 ranking with the WBO. What would be the highlight of you career to date?

It would be my ten round points win over Chuck Mussachio, defending that regional belt. He was from Pennsylvania too so there was a lot of local interest.

Though Chuck was also undefeated at the time (in 15 starts), I handled him pretty well and that gave me a lot of confidence.

The name that means most to UK fans is Karo Murat, a former Cleverly victim. In May 2010, the German based Iraqi outscored you over 12 rounds for the WBO InterContinental crown in Oldenburg, Germany. (Cleverly halted Murat after nine rounds of a WBO eliminator four months later).  It was your only start outside the US. What do you take from that experience that might assist you in your world title challenge?

With barely three weeks notice, I proved I could compete at world level, and it was very competitive from start to finish. Experience can’t be taught so that was great for my learning curve.

Having come through that, I’ll have a much better sense of what to expect when I come to Wales. For a start, you guys speak English!  I know from TV that there’s constant noise in the arena at fights in the UK yet in Germany it was silent which kinda threw me off. It was so unhostile it was disturbing!

What do you know of defending champion Cleverly?

I’m a student of boxing and make it my duty to watch all the other leading contenders in my weight class. I’ve seen Nathan fight on tape on numerous occasions and he’s a great fighter. The fact he’s still unbeaten says a lot. I don’t see one single attribute he has that is greater than all the others, he’s just very rounded, very consistent and always gets himself in great shape. It’s a heck of a challenge but we’ve done our homework.

Given the relatively low grade of competition that you’ve faced thus far what gives you confidence that you can upset such a formidable champion in his home country?

What people have gotta understand is that I’ve sparred lots of rounds with the likes of Roy Jones Jnr and Glen Johnson who are among the greatest fighters of the last 30 years or so. I’ve done many rounds with (reigning WBA boss) Beibut Shumenov and (ex interim WBC champ) Adrian Diaconu plus many, many other very talented fighters. I can always compete with them.

Those are guys who can expose your mistakes and it’s always better to have mistakes exposed in sparring. If you’re ever going to learn anything in boxing, those are the type of guys you want teaching you. I believe sparring that level more than compensates.

How has your preparation gone?

I’m extremely grateful to Frank Warren for giving me six to seven weeks notice for this fantastic chance and, for the first time in my boxing life, I’ll have had the right time to prepare fully.

I’ve had excellent sparring with good pros locally and I guarantee that I’ll arrive in Wales in great shape. I walk around at about 190lbs so I’m possibly at the larger end of the light-heavyweight spectrum but I’ll have no trouble making the weight.

I don’t waste a lot of time talking about styles and approaches. You can draw up gameplans till you’re blue in the face but, once that bell sounds, you have to make constant adjustments. What I can assure you guys is that I’ll come out fighting to win.

What can we expect when you land in the ring on Saturday night?

A really great fight.

It’s my big chance to prove I belong with the best light-heavyweights in the world and victory would provide me the opportunity to support my passion for boxing, without having to go to work.

But it’s the glory not the money that motivates me. Every fighter’s ultimate goal is to win a world title. When you’re fighting at this level, you train heart and soul to win, not to get paid. If you can’t get motivated to fight a world champion, you don’t belong in this sport.

See Cleverly v Karpency live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546). To join go to

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User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by giacomino on 02-20-2012

Nice attitude by Karpency, but let's face it: this is a bumfight for Cleverly, the kind of defense Erdei used to make all the time when he was the WBO beltholder. He ought to fight Shumenov, since Shumenov hasn't fought…

Comment by D-MiZe on 02-20-2012

Karpency is the first decent southpaw Cleverly has faced, he should make the most of his right hook against the Welshman.

Comment by keelaybrown on 02-20-2012

i hope he knocks clev out for trying to cherrypick

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (3)
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