Nathan Cleverly: ‘I’m in love with boxing again’
When Nathan Cleverly traveled to Germany to take on Juergen Braehmer on Oct. 1, most believed he’d put up a good effort but didn’t think he would win.
However, the 29-year-old Welshman had other ideas and was determined to relieve Braehmer of his WBA “regular” belt (a belt unrecognized by THE RING. Andre Ward currently holds the sanctioning body’s primary version). Braehmer had been ahead on all three scorecards, by unanimous scores of 58-56, but pulled out of the bout at the conclusion of the sixth with a dislocated elbow.
“It was a great win for me in Germany,” Cleverly told RingTV.com. “I was up against the odds, going over to Germany, a difficult place to go and win against Braehmer, who’s a good champion. He was unbeaten in eight years.
“I went over and asserted my game plan and I came away with a victory and my second world title. I was delighted. I believed it could happen and I made it happen and it was fantastic.”
Having been written off after losing his WBO belt to Sergey Kovalev in devastating fashion in 2013, an ill-conceived venture at cruiserweight and then, despite putting up a spirited show a year ago against Andrzej Fonfara, he dropped a points decision.
Cleverly (30-3, 16 knockouts) entered the Braehmer fight with an unremarkable 3-3 record in his previous six outings. Despite those numbers, he still felt he could add to his resume.
“I never really doubted myself but I was a little bit flat physically and mentally. I kind of lost my mojo,” he said frankly, regarding the past couple of years. “I was a bit lost. ‘Do I stay at light heavyweight? Do I have a pop at cruiserweight?’ It was a bit of a sh**ty period.
“I experimented at cruiserweight, even thought it didn’t quite work out on the world stage, I enjoyed the journey because there was lessons learned. I’m not a true cruiserweight. I’m not big enough to be a cruiserweight. I enjoyed the process and I learned something from that.
“Here we are back at light heavyweight. I am a true light heavyweight and let’s get back to where I belong. I’m flourishing. Mentally I’m in love with the sport again. I’m over that flat period, that stale period. I’m enjoying being champion again and that was evident in my last fight.”
In doing so, Cleverly became the first Welshman to regain some sort of version of the title. Rising from the adversity and proving the doubters wrong made the victory much sweeter.
“Yeah, second time was brilliant. It was sweeter,” he said. “The first time was great. I achieved my dream the first time around but, the second time after I lost my world title, you kind of hit rock-bottom and then you climb your way back up to the top as world champion (a) second time. It was a tremendous journey, a difficult one, build yourself back up but the outcome when your hand is raised and you’re champion of the world again…wow, it was special. The second time was outstanding.”
After the win, Cleverly, took a well-earned break to travel to Miami with his girlfriend before returning home to civilian life and has kept everything low key.
“(I’ve) had a nice relax and let the victory soak in,” he explained, “because you’re on such a high immediately after the fight, so it takes time to come back to reality.
“Had a nice holiday, reflected on the victory, made the most of it, enjoyed it. It’s setting myself up, now ready to get back to reality of training for my next fight.”
Cleverly expects that fight to come next spring against Braehmer in a rematch.
“I’ve got a rematch obligation in my contract, so that’s the position at the moment,” he added. “The rematch will take place. Braehmer, as champion, gave me, the challenger, the shot at the title and the agreement was, if I win the title, I return the rematch with Braehmer. That’s what’s in the contract. That’s what will happen.
“The promoters will get together sometime in the near future and probably arrange the venue and date. I think, most likely, it’s going to be in Germany. I think it’s just a matter of agreeing (on) a date but that will be the next fight. I’d probably say April, May would be the time period realistically for that fight.
“I’m looking forward to it. I loved going over to Germany and challenging for the world title and I’ll enjoy going over again as champion and defending my title. It’s a brilliant period in my life. It’s going to be a top fight because Braehmer’s going to be coming out wanting revenge. He wants his belt back and it’s going to be a tough fight but I’ll be ready for it. I plan on staying champion for a long time.”
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.
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