Cleverly, Groves and De Gale in first class boxing action
Nathan Cleverly has his eyes firmly fixed on the cruiserweight title, should he win the rematch with Tony Bellow, currently priced at evens with Coral to do so.
“I’ve got a dream of becoming a two-weight champion. Win this fight and that dream is alive,” said Cleverly.
It is reported that the 27-year-old Welshman considered retiring after the defeat to Sergey Kovlev, though instead moved up a weight, while changing his trainer and promoter.
However, Bellew, odds-on 5/6 match favourite, also followed suit, after losing to Canadian Adonis Stevenson in 2013, though recorded victory over Julio Cesar Dos Santos to set up a showpiece with Cleverly, who has won 28 fights out of 29, with 14 of them coming by knockout. To make it 15 against Bellew, he is a 5/1 price.
“Both careers are on the line,” acknowledged Cleverly ahead of the bout. “We’ve put ourselves on a pedestal. We’ve talked the talk. Who can deliver now?
“Maybe for the loser it’s time to walk away, but losing is not an option for me.”
He admits that despite tensions between the two of them, he doesn’t hate his opponent, who has 22 wins out of 25, and the same amount of knockouts.
“I strongly dislike him. I wouldn’t say I hate the guy – I don’t want to waste that emotion on him,” said Cleverly.
“The way he talks is very disrespectful. He’s got a big mouth. He’s a bully boy. He’s a big guy, he’s got a big mouth and he tries to intimidate people. My ambition is to go to his backyard and bully the bully boy.”
Elsewhere, George Groves is odds-on at 1/100 to beat American Denis Douglin, who is an overwhelming 16/1 outsider. The London-born boxer has his eye on Anthony Dirrell’s WBC super middleweight belt if he gets through his latest bout.
“The next fight after this will be Dirrell. I don’t mind how it takes place, I just want a world title,” he said.
“I’m very confident of beating Dirrell. He’s a very good fighter but he is there for the taking I feel. We are trying to put together a fight now.”
James DeGale is odds-on at 1/8 to get past Marco Antonio Periban (5/1) and the former Olympic gold medallist has admitted that he cannot afford a slip up, though could set up a potential bout against Carl Froch if he wins this.
“I would like to send a message to [Carl] Froch but I can’t afford any slip ups because if I lose this, I won’t be fighting for the world title during the early part of next year.
“There’s a lot on the line but I’m feeling good. I’m injury-free and Periban is in for a hard night.”