NATHAN CLEVERLY returns to action at light-heavyweight on Saturday night – with the Welshman looking to get back on the World title trail at The O2, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Cleverly is back down to 175lbs after tackling bitter rival Tony Bellew up at Cruiserweight in November, and the former World champion is eyeing a clash with Juergen Brahmer in the autumn.
The 28 year old held the WBO World Light Heavyweight crown for three years and will be looking to rip the WBA belt from the German who defended it for the fourth time in March against their common foe Robin Krasniqi.
“I am looking forward to my return at Light Heavyweight,” said Cleverly, who meets Thomas Man over eight rounds in Greenwich. “It is all about making sure I am feeling good back at that weight and doing the weight properly.
“I feel good in training at the weight and am making the weight comfortably. It has been six months since I was last in the ring so I am looking forward to getting back in there and getting some cobwebs off. Hopefully after Saturday night I will have something big to concentrate on – which I hope will be the Brahmer fight.
“I understand it has been provisionally agreed and a date has been provisionally agreed, it is just a matter of me coming through Saturday and we can make an announcement then.
“I think going over there will be quite an enjoyable adventure. There will be no pressure of your home crowd, you can concentrate on going over there and your mind is 100 per cent on the fight. Sometimes being the home fighter, with the big build up, the pressure and the added media hype can be a bit distracting.
“Going over there will be an enjoyable experience. It is a little bit out of my comfort zone but sometimes that can be more of an adventure and it will be great to rip the title away from the champion in his hometown.
“He is good fighter, strong and technically good, nothing sensational but he does the basics well. He has a solid left hand and is a good power puncher. He is a good champion, he has been around a long time and has a good amateur pedigree but it is certainly a fight that has been on my radar for a long time.
“We have a lot of history, me and Brahmer. It would be nice if we could finally get this fight on because it has been meaning to happen for a long, long time. Let’s just both get in the ring and settle it once and for all. I have to respect his power but I feel I have too much for Juergen Brahmer.
“I think the difference between then and now, I had great momentum. I was on a great winning streak, a lot of KO and TKO victories, and my confidence was super high whereas Brahmer was having a flat spell. He was suffering mentally, he was a little bit flat. But now Brahmer is flourishing and I have gone off the boil and lost a bit of momentum. You could say I have lost a touch of confidence but that is something that will develop through training and performances.
“I want to get this fight done on Saturday and then going into the Brahmer fight, yes there will be question marks because I won’t have the momentum like I did a few years back, but I believe I am more mature mentally and physically. I believe that combined with speed and my combinations will overcome Brahmer.
“I rate my chances very, very highly. I am a big Light Heavyweight and I have campaigned at Cruiserweight so I have experience of fighting bigger buys. Going into the fight I believe I might be the slight favourite. Brahmer is 36, he is coming off a good few wins and it will be in Germany, I think being the younger fighter and back at Light Heavyweight, probably my true division. I could be the favourite. But he is the champion and it will be for me to rip that title from Brahmer.”
Cleverly’s return to action is part of a massive night of action at The O2, topped by three World title fights.
Sheffield’s Kell Brook defends his IBF World Welterweight title against Birmingham’s Frankie Gavin, Londoner Kevin Mitchell challenges Jorge Linares for the WBC Lightweight belt and Welsh stylist Lee Selby attempts to take the IBF Featherweight crown from Evgeny Gradovich.
Anthony Joshua MBE steps-up in class against Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson and there are three great domestic title bouts on the undercard with John Ryder tackling Nick Blackwell for the vacant British Middleweight strap, Scotty Cardle and Craig Evans tussle for the vacant British Lightweight belt and Dave Ryan defends his Commonwealth Light Welterweight title against John Wayne Hibbert. Former World champion Nathan Cleverly is in action and Lucien Reid makes his pro debut.