Nathan Cleverly is interested in fighting Tony Bellew this fall. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Promoter Frank Warren is still pushing for a fight between WBO light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly and press rival Tony Bellew, even though Bellew was far from impressive beating Ovill McKenzie yesterday in Liverpool.
"I've not got a problem with it," said Cleverly. "It's been on before so let's get it on again."
... "If Frank Warren wants to do it, I'll say yes," said Bellew. "Cleverly can't fight going backwards, and believe me, he'll be going backwards in a fight between the two of us."
Well, I've got some problems with it. The first time the fight was allegedly being made was in May, when Cleverly was originally slated to face the disgraceful Juergen Braehmer for Braehmer's belt. Braehmer pulled a Braehmer and pulled out of the fight late, same as he did in January with Beibut Shumenov, so the WBO finally stripped the German fighter of a belt he didn't deserve to hold.
Lacking an opponent, Bellew stepped in and he and Cleverly put on a show at the press conference. But just a day later, Bellew was out of the fight as he couldn't make weight, and many felt as though Warren had simply pulled a bait and switch to build hype behind a Cleverly vs Bellew fight for later in the year. Instead, Cleverly wound up fighting weak opponent Aleksy Kuziemski, and really couldn't impress even though he won easily.
What we know now, after seeing Bellew yesterday, is that he is quite frankly just not at the right level to be receiving a shot at Cleverly, but he probably will because he sells tickets in Liverpool (most of yesterday's audience were there to see him, third from the top on the card). He is an easy first defense for Cleverly (technically, a second defense, since he was awarded the belt when Braehmer pulled out) and it will have some press push in the UK, so from his side you can't ask for much more. But the fight is not really a good matchup, it's just a good business decision. I doubt anyone gives Bellew much of a chance to beat Cleverly, but fans will turn out anyway, and then wonder how on earth they were fooled into paying for such a mismatch, the same as they did for Haye vs Harrison last year.