Nathan Cleverly vs Badou Jack

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Nathan Cleverly vs Badou Jack
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Saturday, August 26, 2017
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Rounds Scheduled: 
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Titles at Stake: 
WBA Light Heavyweight World Title


Fan Cards: Nathan Cleverly vs Badou Jack

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Champion97's picture


I think this is a great match up, it could well be the fight of the night, it certainly interests me more than the main event.

Nathan Cleverly is a very good fighter, tough, athletic, skilled, solid all round boxer. I remember when Nathan Cleverly, at the young age of 24, battled his way to a hard fought victory against fellow undefeated light heavyweight contender, bitter rival, Liverpudlian, Tony Bellew. After his victory over Bellew, Cleverly found himself on a winning streak, claiming wins over Shawn Hawk, Robin Krasniqui, Tommy Karpency. Cleverly's unbeaten run came to a crushing end when he faced Russian contender, undefeated, very hard hitting, Sergey Kovalev. Kovalev dominated Cleverly in a brutal mismatch, winning the first two rounds by out hustling him, controlling the pace, and after his good start, Kovalev battered Cleverly for a long round or two, beating him to the point which meant he was beyond the point of what should have been a stoppage. Cleverly took his time away from the ring, before returning, and moving up to cruiserweight. Cleverly and Bellew's rivalry exploded when Bellew got onto an impressive winning streak of his own, showing himself to be a different fighter at cruiserweight to the weight drained man we saw at 175. After Cleverly secured two good, solid stoppage wins, both inside 4 rounds, the rematch against Bellew was announced. The fight wasn't what Bellew and Cleverly had said it was going to be, as they fought a close, tentative, maybe lacklustre (certainly from the average fan's perspective) 8 rounds. Cleverly suddenly appeared drained from the likely unnatural muscle he worked onto himself in the build up to the fight, and Bellew, the naturally bigger man, trapped Cleverly against the ropes, sustaining the pressure, landing some very big shots, often single punches, he didn't look great himself, but he took over in the last 4 rounds to win the fight, with Cleverly taking every shot Bellew hit him with, very well indeed. Clearly moved back down to light heavyweight, and then took on dangerous Polishman Andrzej Fonfara, not winning the fight, but thoroughly entertaining the fans, winning 4-5 rounds, in a brutal battle which enhanced his reputation. Nathan Cleverly faced German veteran, WBA champion, Jurgen Braehmer. After 6 rounds of high pace action, 37 year old Braehmer retired due to an injury, and Cleverly won the title, with many of us believing Cleverly, as the younger man, would have come on strong in the second half, and won the fight even had the injury not occurred. Cleverly hasn't fought since his victory over Braehmer, he'll be motivated to defend his title, and a fight in Las Vegas, on the undercard of a Mayweather fight, it is a fantastic opportunity for him, against a great opponent, so although this is a high risk fight, Cleverly is in a great match up here, and I think this is the definitely the kind of fight which Cleverly was hoping to be involved in.

Badou Jack, in my opinion, is a great fighter, underrated as well. Badou Jack wasn't very well known, and was written off by many, before he faced the then WBC super middleweight world champion Anthony Dirrell, having been knocked out in one round by Derek Edwards, blemished by Marco Antonio Periban. Jack (who at this point, was training in the Mayweather gym, tight knit bunch, Mayweather, and all the fighters who train at his gym, all very close) shocked everybody with his performance, taking over the fight after a close first half, defeating Dirrell via majority decision to claim the belt. Jack, at this point, was considered the weak link in the division, which I thought was unfair, and people made it very clear when pressuring challenger George Groves, that "Jack is the weak link in the division, Groves loses this one, it is all over for him, he's not going to be a world champion". Jack dropped Groves early, to many people's shock, and for the next 11 rounds, Groves and Jack fought competitively, but it was Jack who defended his belt with a unanimous decision victory. Jack still wasn't recognised as as good a fighter as he was, when it became a strong option that he would take on IBF champion, 2008 Olympic gold medalist, James Degale, in a unification bout. In 2016, Degale and Jack competed on the same night, on the same bill, in the capital city of the US, Washington DC. Degale struggled in a still quite wide UD vicotry over Mexican warrior Rogelo 'porky' Medina, a fighter who Jack stopped earlier in his career. Jack fought Lucian Bute (who Degale had defeated 116-112/117-111 back in November 2015). Jack defended well, and out boxed Bute, using his jab early, appearing to knock steam out of his opponent, and after 9 rounds, he was a long way ahead, before strangely, Bute found an unexpected second wind in the late rounds, appearing fresher than Jack, hurting him to the body, but clearly not winning enough rounds to catch Jack up. Ludicrously, two judges scored the fight 114-114, robbing Jack of a victory here deserved by at least a strict margin of two points, Floyd Mayweather fully supported his fighter, expressing his anger towards the insufficient officials. Not long afterwards, having both defended their titles, Degale and Jack were confirmed to fight each other in January 2017, at which point, it was revealed that Bute had failed a drug test, this explained Bute's erratic energy levels. Degale was the favourite against Jack, but when it came to the fight, Jack put a stop to this 'average fighter, weak link, Degale is a class above' nonsense, after being dropped, a flash knockdown in round 1, Jack came back to heavily drop an exhausted, battered Degale in round 12. Jack had won a few one sided rounds, emphatic rounds, but in terms of how many rounds they had won, each could have outdone the other, and the scorecards reflected this, as a majority draw was announced, a legitimate, but highly disputed, controversial decision. After the fight, a rematch was an option, but Jack explained that he had just about outgrown the 168 lb division, and making the weight again wouldn't be a good idea, so the rematch became unlikely. Shortly after the good news that due to the evidence of foul play, Jack got the win he deserved for the Bute fight (by DQ, but the blemish was removed) Badou Jack vacated his belt, and moved up to 175. It is great for Badou Jack that his first fight as a light heavyweight, is a world title opportunity, this is a more than productive fight for Jack, and on the undercard of such a popular, hyped up fight, involving the one and only Floyd Mayweather Jr.

I believe Badou Jack will win this one. I think this is very interesting, Jack will be the favourite here, Cleverly, with 3 defeats, best wins, over Murat, Bellew and Braehmer, whilst Jack has defeated Groves, Dirrell, Bute, tied with Degale, Cleverly appears to be a level below the man who is less experienced in the division, but interestingly, Jack is just that, a guy who hasn't ever fought at this weight at world level, Jack did compete at 175 a few times earlier in his career, but not since 2013, and that fight didn't go as long as 3 rounds, and weight may play a part in this fight, because Cleverly is a far more established light heavyweight than Jack is. I think Jack will get off to a good start, firing quick combinations that land around and through the guard of the champion, Jack might set up his offence with the jab to the body like he did against Bute, whilst Cleverly will be getting out worked, but he will try to keep the head moving, try to push Jack back, use his variety, angles, he'll have success, but I think Jack will be too nimble, and quick to dip in and out of range. I think after 6 rounds, Jack, with his skills, will be ahead in the fight 6-0 in some opinions, maybe only 4-2 in others, Cleverly having gotten well into the fight, using relentlessness, variety, but being behind as Jack finding more accuracy, maybe more power as well. I think Jack will manage to out hustle a tiring Cleverly in rounds 7-9, having attacked the body, knocked steam out of the Welshman, but I think he will be surprised by the physical strength of Cleverly. I think, due to the fact that Jack couldn't have made 168 again, and he has competed at 175 before, the division won't take much getting used to, but maybe competing against a bigger man that he has fought in years, and at a different level, and I think this will cause him some minor struggles, and misjudgement of how hard he should be working. I think rounds 10 and 11 will be 6 minutes of non stop action, neither fighter hurt, both fighters battling their hearts out centre ring, entertaining the Vegas crowd. I think the action will continue in round 12, but Cleverly will clearly have the better of the last session, being fatigued but less fatigued than his opponent, Jack having the stamina still to land shots, keep throwing, but his punches won't have the same pop as they did earlier in the fight, and Cleverly land with the heavier blows, and more of them, although I don't think he'll hurt Jack. I think after the bell has gone, Cleverly will raise his arm, proud of himself for his effort, and participation in the fight which the fans loved, but it will be Jack who is lifted by his team, and it will be Jack who knows he's done enough to get the win. I think Jack will win a wide unanimous decision (116-112, 117-111, 119-109), and he will be become the new WBA light heavyweight world champion.

I think although he has a title to lose, this, in a sense, is a win/win fight for Nathan Cleverly on a simply win/lose scale. I think it would be very disappointing for Cleverly if he was stopped early in this fight, or it was really one sided, and his reputation didn't increase as I'm 90% sure it will, but if Cleverly goes out there, tries his best, uses his tools, uses his experience, and makes it a great fight, giving a great account of himself, then the fight will only be good for his career. Cleverly does have a lot to lose here, because the champion, so he will see this fight as a fight he should win, but he is the underdog, no matter what happens, he has been a world champion, twice, that will never go away. If Cleverly wins this (which I think is unlikely, but certainly not impossible, more shocking things have happened in boxing many times), then I think it will be the victory of his career so far no doubt, it will be a brilliant first title defence, he will gain a lot of respect in America, a lot of respect from Floyd Mayweather, and he will benefit financially a huge amount, besides the sheer honour of the opportunities it could bring him, it could set up a big fight at 175, against Stevenson, maybe even Ward. I think if Cleverly loses, but in the way I think he will, then he can become a world champion again, the fight will open doors for him in the future even in defeat. I believe Cleverly is very good, but in a competitive division like this, not just the champion, but all the potential challengers, Alvarez, Gvozdyk, Browne, a stage below these guys time wise, I can think of three unbeaten, talented, promising light heavyweights, so I think Cleverly will lose most of if not all of all the big fights he is in, in the future, I hope he is in big fights, I will be very happy for him if he proves me wrong there, and I think he'll always make it competitive, even in a fight against Ward, and I do believe he might well win another world title which is a great achievement. I think ultimately, if he gives Badou Jack problems, makes it a great fight, trades shots with him, doesn't win, but makes a great account of himself, does well, then this fight will be good for his career.

I think Badou Jack has a great future at 175, I think it is his division, and we will see the best Badou Jack over the next 3 years or so, at light heavyweight. This really is a great fight for Badou Jack, a durable opponent, an athletic opponent, a fighter who Jack and his team won't see as a step too far to this stage of his career, a challenge stoppage wise, could give him a lot of rounds, and aside from the opponent, fighting on such a bill, in a match up that could well turn out to be the fight of the night. If Jack wins this fight, catches a belt, he can pick up right where he left off at super middleweight, on the cusp of big fights at the top level. If Jack was to lose this fight, it would very disappointing for him, he could probably rebuild, and get back to where he would have been had he not lost, but it would be at least a temporary roadblock, so Badou will know he has a lot to lose here, a lot to maintain on the other hand, something to build onto his success streak at this level at 168. I think this will be a brilliant win for Jack, as he becomes a world champion, goes 12 good rounds against a tough, world class opponent, I think it will set up bigger fights, great opportunities for him in the future. I think Jack wants all the champions at 175, he's that kind of guy, he chases titles, he doesn't take the outlandish route to world title, he doesn't make it personal, he just earns his opportunity to fight whoever has the belt, and fights, so I think he will want to fight every champion at 175, and he is fighting one here. I think Badou Jack can beat Adonis Stevenson, and Stevenson, a vulnerable fighter, with all due respect, a fighter who has been avoiding tough fights, and a fighter who doesn't not have time on his side, so if Jack beats Cleverly, and Jack vs Stevenson gets made, I think Jack would become the WBA and WBC champion. Of course, Badou Jack would love to fight Andre Ward, I would very much like to see that fight, for the fans, it is great to watch Ward in any fight, for Ward, he has the opportunity to remind everyone what a special fighter he is, and for the opponent, it is the opportunity of a lifetime, so I'm sure Badou Jack is prepared to train harder than ever before, and beat whoever he needs to beat, to get that shot, then again, I think the same can be said for Marcus Browne, Artur Beterbiev, Oleksandre Gvozdyk, Sullivan Barrera, others as well, so it is a lively, competitive category, and if Jack wants to get to the top of the division, it is not going to be easy, but I believe he can beat most of the light heavyweights out there.