Cleverly ‘homecoming’ fight on course for sell-out

NATHAN Cleverly is capturing the imagination of the sporting public in South Wales.

Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena is hosting Clev’s WBO light-heavyweight title defence against Tommy Karpency on February 25 and has a boxing capacity of just under 5,000.

Only 900 tickets are left for the show and with four weeks to go a sell-out is on the cards.

“The atmosphere is going to be awesome,” Cleverly told me this week. “It’s going to be a sold-out arena and that’s going to give me a great buzz.

“It’s so exciting to know I’m going to come out to an atmosphere like this, it’s going to be electric.

“It’s difficult to gauge my fan base really because I haven’t fought at home for such a long time.

“But it’s very impressive that people are coming out to support me and it means a lot, it really does.

“Hopefully I can return the favour and put on a great performance for the fans.”

Cleverly’s ‘homecoming’ is in the middle of a huge weekend for Welsh sport.

Wales are in Six Nations action against England at Twickenham on the Saturday afternoon, while many of Clev’s fans could be at Wembley the following day to see Cardiff City play in the Carling Cup final.

Clev is a big City fan himself and is hoping for a weekend to remember.

“I hope we can make it a real successful and exciting weekend,” he said.

“It would be very easy to get carried away once I hear the crowd, slip off my plan and go all guns blazing.

“But I know I can deal with the occasion and the pressure and I’m looking forward to enjoying myself.

“When the first bell goes he’ll soon know he’s in deep, it’s going to be a very difficult night for Karpency all round.”

British and Commonwealth featherweight champion Lee Selby will be on the undercard on February 25 – and Cleverly is confident the Barry boxer will be joining him at the top soon.

Selby burst onto the scene in 2011 when he won his belts by knocking out the highly-touted Stephen Smith and then dismissing domestic veteran John Simpson.

“He has the potential to come as far as I have and push on now,” said Cleverly.

“He’s very talented and there’s no reason why he can’t get to world level.

“He’s got the boxing ability and skills and I definitely think he can follow in my footsteps.”

Both men are 24 and the pair shared much of their amateur days together.

“We came through together. We were always in the Welsh championships and he was a couple of weights below me,” recalled Clev.

“I’ve always known he’s had class and he’s showing that in the professional ranks now, he’s coming through very well.

“He took his opportunity to win the British and Commonwealth titles unexpectedly, but it wasn’t really a surprise to the people who knew him.

“He’s always had pedigree and I think he’s a very good fighter.”

I’m delighted to say I’m working with Team Cleverly on a VIP package to include pre-show hospitality and an after-show party on February 25.