British Scene: Nathan Cleverly vs Tommy Karpency Preview

Nathan Cleverly spars with his father and coach Vince Cleverly at the Peacock Gym as he prepares for his bout against American Tommy Karpency. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Dave Oakes previews Saturday's light-heavyweight clash between Nathan Cleverly and Tommy Karpency (a look at Frankie Gavin's undercard match-up after the jump).

Tommy Karpency goes into Saturday’s fight with Nathan Cleverly knowing that very few people outside of his family give him a chance of winning the WBO light-heavyweight title. The question is: is everyone else underestimating him?

Well, no, they’re most definitely not. I can’t fault Karpency’s character and behaviour in the build-up to the fight - he’s come across as a very likable and dedicated individual - but let’s be honest, he’s done nothing to warrant getting a title shot and has shown little in his twenty-four fight career that suggests he’s anywhere near world class.

The most notable fight on Karpency’s résumé is a unanimous points defeat to Karo Murat nearly two years ago. The American battled hard and showed durability but never looked like winning the bout. Murat then faced Cleverly in his next fight and was pulled out before the tenth round after a one-sided hammering at the hands of the Welshman, who won the interim title that night.

This will be Cleverly’s second defence of the full title he won in four rounds against Aleksy Kuziemski, another sub-standard challenger for a world title – although, to be fair, he was a late substitute. Cleverly beat domestic rival Tony Bellew in his first defence last October, coming through a tremendous battle to claim a majority decision. Perhaps Saturday’s fight is seen as a gentile way of Cleverly getting back into the swing of things after such a hard fight last time out.

Karpency’s southpaw stance shouldn’t prove to be a problem for Cleverly, despite the fact he’s not fought any southpaws that I can remember in the paid ranks. The American doesn’t always take full advantage of the southpaw style; he can be guilty of standing square on at times and allows his opponent to push him backwards rather than establishing his own right lead.

Cleverly will be eager to impress in front of his home fans - the fight being his first in Wales for over four years – and one senses he won’t leave them disappointed. Karpency will undoubtedly put in a sterling effort but it will surely be in vain, with Cleverly’s speed and skill advantages being too much for the challenger to contend with.

I envisage Karpency giving it a go in the first few rounds before settling into ‘opponent mode’. A stoppage victory would constitute a good performance for Cleverly, with the last four rounds being the pick as he tries to slowly break down the durable American.

The pick of the undercard sees Frankie Gavin taking on Kevin McIntyre over eight rounds. The past twelve months have been horrendous for Gavin, both inside and out of the ring. He’s back with his old amateur trainer in Birmingham after a brief stint with the Tibbs’ and will be hoping to make quick progress this year.

Gavin is coming off two poor performances, points wins over Young Mutley and Curtis Woodhouse, whilst McIntyre has lost two of his last five and hasn’t looked the same since being decimated by Kell Brook three years ago. This should be a good match-up for Gavin at this stage of his career, McIntyre has mixed at British title level and has the nous to cause a few problems. It’ll be interesting to see what Gavin looks like, hopefully the fire will be back, if so Gavin should win comfortably.

e-mail Dave Oakes

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