Wales has a population of just three million people yet historically have always been a sporting nation that punch above their weight. Normally those from the principality worship their heroes before delivering them into folklore but on this occasion the Welsh public have fallen seriously short!
Shame on the Welsh public
Being an adopted Welshman and proud of it this piece was not easy to write but we are aghast with a dismissive/disinterested Welsh public. The principality have refused to acknowledge both the manner and achievement of their most recent and brilliant world champion Nathan Cleverly and we do not know the reason why?
Unbeaten WBO light heavy weight champion who has...
Nathan Cleverly is the unbeaten WBO light heavyweight champion who has conducted himself with an articulation and decorum rarely witnessed before in British boxing and especially these days. Incredibly for a world champion the boxer has built his boxing career whilst at the same time graduating with a BSc in Mathematics from Cardiff University. The Racing Horse stands to be corrected but we cannot recall anything similar from another boxer in any country!
End of a strange year for Cleverly
Fast forwarding to tomorrow's fight, Nathan Cleverly hopes the first American defence of his WBO light-heavyweight title will end a strange year on a high before setting up some stellar fights in 2013. His undefeated record of 24 fights comes under threat for a fourth time as champion when he fights Shaun Hawk at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Hawk - a late replacement!
Shaun Hawk (28) from Sioux Falls, South Dakota man was only named as a late replacement for Ryan Coyne earlier this week after contractual issues with his promoter Don King put paid to the world title ambitions of Cleverly’s intended opponent. On first glance this former cruiserweight looks as though he can punch because he has a high knock-out ratio. Known as the Sioux Warrior because of his American-Indian background he has recorded 23 wins, two losses and a draw. He has stopped 17 of his opponents and 15 of them within the first three rounds! More importantly he holds wins over decent fighters like Otis Griffin and Henry Buchanan. In his last fight in Montreal 8 June 2012 he lost a decision to the undefeated North American Boxing Organization champion Eleider Alvarez. For that fight he received a miserly but career-high $17,500 but expects to get something close to $40,000 for challenging Cleverly.
Cleverly told The Racing Horse: "I accept that I have been a little bit inactive since I have achieved my dream but there is no rush – I am only 25-years of age. We will get this defence done, hopefully successfully and then we can move on to the next one, which is my mandatory challenger before we go for the real big elite fights. This is part of a plan, in coming to America, gaining experience and gaining US exposure. By doing that we’ll be set up to be in big fights in 2013." Of his tonight's opponent Cleverly told us: "I will be aiming to look good and will definitely be trying to take him out."
Of course the intention is for an impressive showing against Hawk so as to line up unification match-ups with Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud or Beibut Shumenov. They hold the WBC, IBF and WBA light-heavyweight titles respectively. Cleverly has certainly set about turning heads since arriving in Los Angeles for the final stages of his preparations.
Promoter and former six-weight world champion Oscar De La Hoya has touted him as a future star and spoken of a possible fight with ring legend Bernard Hopkins. Another keen admirer is Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, who revealed a desire to work with Cleverly after the Cefn Fforest fighter impressed during sparring sessions at his world-renowned Wild Card Gym. Cleverly said: "It’s a really busy gym, loads of fighters are in there. I got involved and really enjoyed it. It was really good stuff, sparring with a few American fighters that are part of the Wild Card Gym. One was an undefeated cruiserweight and on Tuesday I sparred a light heavyweight. Again, he was an unbeaten fighter and you gain from quality sparring."
Never been fitter...
There is some history to this fight as Nathan Cleverly endeavours to become the first Welshman since the Second World War to win a world title fight on US soil. Regarding the prolonged preparation against a southpaw Nathan’s father Vince Cleverly told us: "Nathan has been through this before and is just as used to fighting orthodox as southpaw boxers. It doesn’t matter because this is the best I’ve seen Nathan and the result will be the same." Before the fighter flew out to Los Angeles The Racing Horse witnessed his last piece of serious work and can confirm we have never seen him look better or fitter.
Lustre but not credence
To add lustre to the fight if not credence Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke, who is playing rugby star Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas in a blockbuster biopic, is carrying Cleverly’s belt into the ring on Saturday and they will also be joined by Welsh singing superstar Tom Jones.
The fight is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).
The Racing Horse would ask for two things tonight. An impressive win from Cleverly, preferably with a stoppage, and that once the Welsh public have seen him succeed on American soil they truly acknowledge their fighter!
To find out more about Nathan Cleverly visit: http://www.nathancleverly.co.uk/