If you saw WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly’s close 12 round majority decision win over challenger Tony Bellew (16-1, 10 KO’s) last Saturday night you would think the last thing that Cleverly needs to be doing is trying to move forward to fight WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson or 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins. But that’s exactly what the 24-year-old Cleverly wants to do.
I think he’s stupid for wanting this, because I think he didn’t even prove that he’s better than Bellew last weekend. I scored the fight a draw and that was after giving Cleverly a couple of mercy rounds. I really think he should have lost, but knowing how popular he is in the UK, I figured he would be given rounds that were close even if Bellew appeared to do the better work. The judges scored it 117-112, 114-114 and 116-113. The 117-112 score was just plain strange because there was no way on earth that Cleverly won by those wide of score.
Instead of looking to fight Dawson or Hopkins, and get dominated, Cleverly needs to give Bellew a rematch but with a whole different crew of judges apart from the one that scored it 114-114. I think Cleverly needs to show that he’s better than Bellew before he can move on to bigger and better things like Dawson or Hopkins. And right now Cleverly and Bellew are about equal. That’s just the reality of it. Cleverly can move on if he wants to but he looks bad because he didn’t show that he was better than Bellew.
Hopkins and Dawson aren’t going to waste time fighting Cleverly. That’s not going to happen. Dawson wants to fight a rematch against Jean Pascal, while Hopkins is injured from a bad shoulder injury. Who knows how long it will take for that injury to heal, but I don’t think he’ll want to fight a less than popular guy like Cleverly in his next fight in the U.S. Hopkins won’t travel to England, that’s the only place that a Cleverly vs. Hopkins fight has any significance. U.S fans won’t buy that fight, especially after the PPV fiasco of the Hopkins-Dawson fight.
Cleverly said this to ringtv: “I think Shumenov would be good next step for me. He’s only had about 13 fights and is WBA champion. Or there’s Tavoris Cloud, the IBF champion, who is a good fighter. There’d both be unification fights. If a fight with Hopkins or Dawson came along I would take it. Whether or not I’m ready, I don’t know.”
You’re not ready, Cleverly; take it from me. I think Cloud would knock Cleverly out with his high work rate and the same with Shumenov. With his poor defense, Cleverly would be a sitting duck against Cloud and Shumenov.
I hate to say it but Cleverly pretty much found his upper level in the Bellew fight and he’s reached his ceiling.
By Scott Gilfoid:
Nathan Cleverly did just enough to retain his WBO light-heavyweight title on points at the end of a real war with Tony Bellew.
Liverpudlian Bellew produced the fight of his life in front of his home fans at the Echo Arena, proving he’s more than just a big puncher with a tremendous display of boxing skills that pushed the champion to the limit.
However Cleverly semed to land the cleaner stuff throughout 12 gruelling rounds, meaning he got the nod on a majority verdict.
The Welshman had it 117-112 and 116-113 in his favour from two of the judges at ringside with the third not able to split the pair, marking it 114-114.
They certainly did not disappoint after all the hype in the build-up, which included them nearly coming to blows at a press conference before their scheduled first fight, one which Bellew had to pull out of due to weight issues.
The extra wait proved worth it though and even referee Richie Davies was ready for fireworks from the moment the first bell sounded, warning the challenger within a minute for using his head.
The telling off did not bother Bellew though, and in the second round he loaded up with some big right hands that had his vocal supporters on their feet to cheer him on.
Cleverly responded to the onslaught with a show of defiance, both to his opponent and the crowd, sticking out his tongue and doing a little jig to suggest none of the punches had caused any damage.
Still, he was again on the wrong end of a few in the third, Bellew surprisingly out-jabbing a man who was supposed to have the superior talent of the two.
But by the seventh it appeared Cleverly’s work to the body was beginning to slow down his rival – only for ‘Bomber’ Bellew to get a second wind and pour forward, including landing a straight right in the 10th that would have floored many a man.
In the end, though, Cleverly’s champion pedigree saw him come on strong at the finish, and it was he who looked much the more confident over the outcome when the final bell sounded to end a sensational Anglo-Welsh battle that will leave many calling for a second instalment.