Trainer John David Jackson isn't expecting much of a challenge for his fighter Sergey Kovalev next Saturday against Nathan Cleverly, when Kovalev travels to Cardiff, Wales, to challenge for Cleverly's WBO light heavyweight title.
Jackson, a former junior middleweight and middleweight titleholder himself, expects that no matter how it goes, Cleverly is in a no-win situation against a better fighter:
"Honestly speaking, I can't even rate Cleverly compared to the other world champions in the division, he hasn't earned the right yet to even be compared to them. "He's not even qualified to be ranked. It's difficult for Nathan, we'll take him to school and the way that he responds to losing to Kovalev will shape his career.
"We don't expect this fight to go much beyond three rounds, but if Nathan hangs in and Sergey has to box to beat him, it'll just delay the inevitable.
"If the fight is stopped early, Cleverly will be knocked out, if it goes to points he will lose, he can't win in this situation. On a round-by-round basis we'll show you Nathan's flaws one by one, no doubt."
Cleverly's father and trainer Vince Cleverly recently said he also expects the fight to end by knockout, but obviously going the other way, saying he's seen Kovalev's legs wobble against Gabriel Campillo and Cornelius White, and that Cleverly can finish the job where they did not.
Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KO) has been absolutely wrecking opponents and building a bit of a name for himself, and Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach has expressed his admiration for Kovalev's skills, too. Cleverly (26-0, 12 KO) has not faced a serious contender since squeaking past Tony Bellew in 2011, easily defeating easy marks Tommy Karpency, Shawn Hawk, and Robin Krasniqi since then.
It's an interesting fight because neither of them has actually been tested. Sure, Campillo is a more credible fighter than the guys Cleverly has beaten (save for Bellew and maybe Karo Murat), but I do tend to agree with Vince Cleverly when he says that Campillo, a notorious slow starter, was perfect for Kovalev. So what more is there? Cornelius White and Lionell Thompson?
Someone's going to prove out next weekend, and someone isn't. It's really that simple, and that's why it's such a good fight.