Nathan Cleverly, dethroned and utterly dejected, says he will spend the next month or two putting the feet up and weighing his long-term options — including the possibility of retiring at the age of 26.
The former WBO light heavyweight titleholder, having been crushed this past weekend in his home city of Cardiff, Wales, by brutal Russian Sergey Kovalev, admits he is unsure whether to continue boxing or quit the sport for good.
That alarming statement must be taken in some sort of context, of course. It did come just 48 hours after he had lost his belt and unbeaten record early in the fourth round of a disastrous night.
But, on the other hand, Cleverly (26-1, 12 knockouts) is not one to make rash remarks about a first defeat possibly being his last. He certainly seemed in a considered, thoughtful frame of mind when discussing the subject Monday evening.
“There’s shock but the reality is that I’ve been beaten for the first time in my career,” said the Cefn Fforest fighter live on Box Nation. “During training you do think about what you’d do if he beats you – do I continue or do I do something else in life? You do contemplate losing and that fear drives you on in training.
“But when it happens it’s a bitter pill to swallow and it’s hard work for it to sink in. But it has to because this is top-level sport. In boxing it’s difficult to remain unbeaten when you’re having top fights against all these guys. It’s a tough sport and you have to drag yourself back up.
“My immediate thinking is to live a normal life, enjoy myself a bit, have some junk food, a few drinks with my mates and go away for some sunshine. I’ve had two fights on the bounce, I’ve been training long and hard and have been focussed for a long time.
“I’ll leave it to my inclinations to lead me. My instincts will tell me six weeks into the break if it’s back to boxing, that’s where I belong and it’s time to give it another crack. But they could say go the other way.
“That’s the way I operate. In life I do whatever I want to do, and not what I feel I have to do. I went to university and got my studies. That was one chapter in my life. Becoming a European and World champion was another chapter in my life. And there may well be another chapter still to come when I do something else.
“It all depends where my heart is and if there’s the desire to get back and give it another blast. I’ll know in a couple of months’ time.”
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