Some boxing fans were less than impressed with Nathan Cleverly’s victory over last fight challenger Tony Bellew, especially given his desire of unifying the light heavyweight divisions. However, there were circumstances neither known nor recognised that need to be aired before we can look at his next fight in the proper light!
Cleverly sustained an injury to his ribs when sparring with Chris Eubank Jnr and in a rare acquiescence it was deemed serious enough for the British Boxing Board of Control to authorise a painkilling injection before the fight. The situation demanded a postponement so trainer Vince Cleverly made two anxious calls to the BBBC. Rescheduling was the only option but a pumped-up Nathan Cleverly, not wanting to be labelled a quitter, insisted on fighting despite the subsequent disadvantage!
This gift to Bellew amounted to a lot more than the free hit on the chin Cleverly offered at an earlier press conference. The reported injury had been given to the Board of Control in strict confidence but within minutes the Bellew camp knew of it. This gave the Liverpudlian braggart a fillip to aid his best ever preparation. Consequently the injury was targeted with the champion spending precious fight-time protecting it!
The Frank Warren machine realised that Bellew had reached an ephemeral moment in his boxing career and something unlikely to be repeated. Team Cleverly readily acknowledged his massive effort. Warren confirmed that on that night Bellew would have been a handful to any light heavyweight champion and in turn upgraded the victory.
An aside to the above was the disgraceful behaviour of the Bellew entourage who used phrases like the ‘slitting of throats’ and it was accepted, that in part, the situation got to Cleverly. Despite the injury and intimidation history will record that the boy from Cefn Fforest dealt with and then mastered Bellew in the most challenging of circumstances.