Nathan Cleverly was physically dominated by Sergey Kovalev in August, losing his WBO light heavyweight title at home in Cardiff, Wales, but after a short break from the sport, the 26-year-old fighter tells RingTV.com that he he wants a rematch with Kovalev.
"I want to become a world champion again and that would be my goal because I would never come back just to participate. I would be back to give it everything and reach the same heights that I did before. ... I want to come back in a significant fight and to be honest I want a rematch with Kovalev. I would love that fight and I would go to America for it. It's not about the money, it's about pride. We gave Kovalev the chance and I would hope that he would return the favor. I want that as my next fight."
I think without question you have to respect the bravery and the determination this statement shows. Cleverly (26-1, 12 KO) was coddled rather heavily before this fight, fighting a slate of non-contenders in title matches, but that rarely truly lies at the doorstep of the fighter, and is generally a managerial decision. He wasn't afraid to fight Kovalev (22-0-1, 20 KO) the first time, and he's not afraid to do it again.
Should that be his first fight back? That's a more difficult question. Conventional wisdom would suggest coming back for a "get-well" fight, where Clev can get his confidence back, and more likely than not I'd expect that's what we'll see. But I have to think Main Events would be open to a rematch in the States sometime next year -- it would still be good money for Kovalev, and could land back on HBO if put on the right card and packaged well.