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Nathan Cleverly to return in Monaco against Ilunga Makabu

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Nathan Cleverly has his next fight set, as the former light heavyweight titlist will take on dangerous cruiserweight puncher Ilunga Makabu on February 1 in Monaco.

Scott Heavey

With Pawel Kolodziej dropping out as the opponent for Ilunga Makabu on February 1 in Monaco, when Gennady Golovkin headlines against Osumanu Adama, Nathan Cleverly has stepped in for what is a very dangerous fight as he looks to make his mark as a cruiserweight following August's brutal loss to Sergey Kovalev in Cleverly's final fight at light heavyweight.

Cleverly (26-1, 12 KO) hasn't fought since he was overpowered by Kovalev and lost his WBO light heavyweight title, a bubble-bursting reality check that was followed by the fighter giving himself and his performance an honest look-over, considering his future in the sport, and deciding to return at cruiserweight for another go at a world title. Against Makabu, he'll look to secure the interim WBA belt, which would put him right in line for such an opportunity.

Makabu (15-1, 14 KO) is no joke, though, and this is an ambitious first fight at the new weight for Cleverly. After losing his pro debut back in 2008, Makabu has gone 15-0. He's shown some real ability in recent fights against Dmytro Kucher and Eric Fields, and though he has a fairly empty record overall, he passes the eye test, at least.

Is Cleverly taking too big a risk as he moves up?