Nathan Cleverly surely knows that his past opposition -- especially since his narrow win over Tony Bellew -- has been criticized greatly by those outside the pat-on-the-back circles, but there's no criticizing his next fight, as he's set to face Sergey Kovalev in Cardiff, Wales, on August 17.
The fight will be the HBO debut for both fighters. Cleverly has wanted to make his mark in the States for a while now, and though he did have a Showtime undercard bout last year, that was hardly the sort of bout that was going to put him on the map. This one, however, could be the ticket.
"I'm over the moon that Kovalev has confirmed that he's fighting me," Cleverly stated in a press release from Frank Warren. "I've wanted Kovalev all along and I spoke to my promoter Frank Warren and said that this is the guy I want to fight. He's making big waves in America and he's a fighter that people know. His knockouts are frightening to watch and give you a neck mohican, but that's when I perform to my best, when the adrenalin is flowing and the odds are stacked against me."
Cleverly (26-0, 12 KO) will be making the sixth defense of his title, and obviously is taking the streaking Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KO), zeroing in on the power that the Russian brings to the fight, with belief that he has the speed and skills to avoid the same fate that has met Gabriel Campillo and Cornelius White this year.
"This will be Kovalev's thunder against my lightning and he is going to get a serious shock. The viewers in the UK are going to see something special on BoxNation and I'm delighted that the fight will be in America on HBO, the market that I'm looking to conquer next."
Warren believes that the hyped Kovalev could be the Jeff Lacy to Cleverly's Joe Calzaghe. Lacy was touted as a 168-pound version of Mike Tyson when those two met in 2006, and was the massive betting favorite, but was torn to shreds by Calzaghe, and his career never really recovered.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for Nathan against a very dangerous and massive puncher where he can really take his name to the next level," said Warren. "Kovalev is getting big praise in America and they are really excited by him so if Nathan beats him and does it spectacularly then his stock will rise ten-fold. Remember, Jeff Lacy was the next big thing until he came across Joe Calzaghe and I think in this case Kovalev is Nathan's Lacy. It's going to be an exciting fight and one that you can't miss."
In Lacy's case, he was oversold. Could Warren be right about Kovalev, too?