Cleverly targets “best career win” over Fonfara in Chicago clash
Lee Gormley | October 16, 2015
Former WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly makes a daunting trip to Chicago to challenge Polish competitor Andrzej Fonfara for his WBC international belt, after previously turning down another potential world title fight.
The 28-year-old Welshman rejected the chance to come up against WBA champion Juergen Braehmer in favour of contesting dangerous Chicago-based Pole Fonfara, who impressively stopped Julio Cesar Chavez Jr earlier this year.
Fonfara (27-3, 17 KOs) bears from Poland but has been based in Chicago for most of his professional career, the city which holds the second-largest Polish population in the world behind Warsaw, but Cleverly is 13/8 with Coral to conquer his well-supported opponent.
Cleverly (29-2, 15 KOs) is confident of overcoming the odds though, and is excited by the bout which he revealed he was unable to turn down, with the former world champion believing a victory would set him up for another high-profile meeting with Adonis Stevenson or a rematch with Sergey Kovalev.
“I was presented with the opportunity to fight Juergen Braehmer in Germany for the WBA world title,” stated Cleverly.
“I had my heart set on that fight, I was looking forward to that fight. It was a chance for me to become world champion again.
“Then my promoter came back to me a few weeks later with the opportunity to fight Andrzej Fonfara in America, in Chicago.
“Suddenly I was presented with this fantastic opportunity to come to America and showcase in a big fight against Fonfara.
“So ultimately, I just feel fighting here in America on this big stage, I just feel it was too much of a big opportunity to turn away.
“I declined the world title fight and I believe this is a bigger fight. It’s probably a more difficult fight but it’s on a bigger platform. It’s in the States and I like fighting here, so let’s do it.”
Although, the Welshman knows exactly what he’s up against on American soil, as he prepares to face a fighter that could be a huge threat in front of what will be his home support, making him the odds-on 1/2 favourite.
“This will be my toughest fight I think, apart from Sergey Kovalev,” continued the Caerphilly-born bruiser.
“I think Andrzej Fonfara is probably going to be the toughest. You know, his resume, his recent performances, he’s looked good. So, yes, this is my toughest fight.
“But I’ve prepared well for this fight, I’m looking forward to it. I just think the winner of this fight, it’s the gateway to the elite fights with Stevenson and Kovalev. This is the kind of eliminator for those fights.
“It’s a tough fight but, provided I get through this, then I’m in that elite mix.
“This is my third time in the States, my third fight in the States. I fought in Las Vegas a few years ago and then in LA a few years later, where I defended my world title. Each occasion has been a fantastic experience.
“I’ve loved every moment of it and I’m back and I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great fight, this one. I want to be world champion again. Fonfara, he’s in my way.
“I don’t think there’s many weaknesses with Andrzej but what I can capitalize on I believe is my movement, my speed and my punch variation. I believe the variety will give Fonfara problems and I believe I can pull this off.”
Victory for Cleverly would represent a further revival in his career, having suffered defeats to dominant Russian Kovalev and fellow Brit Tony Bellew in the last two years, but he faces a tough task against a solid Fonfara in an intimidating UIC Pavilion.
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Betting tip: Nathan Cleverly beats Andrzej Fonfara @ 13/8