FORMER WBO world light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly is confident that he will be too good for big-hitting Junior Makubu on his cruiserweight debut.

Cleverly, who lost his world title after a knockout defeat to Sergey Kovalev in Cardiff in August, will face the brutal puncher from the Democratic Republic of Congo over ten rounds in Monte Carlo on February 1.

The Cefn Fforest star has replaced Pawel Kolodziej as the opponent for Makabu on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin’s championship fight at the Monte Carlo Boxing Bonanza.

The tournament is presented by Africa’s promotional giant, Golden Gloves of South Africa.

Cleverly (26-1, 12 KOs) stepped in after Kolodziej had second thoughts about facing Makabu (15-0, 14 KOs) who is arguably the most devastating puncher in the cruiserweight division with all but one of his wins having come by knockout.

But Cleverly is in no doubt that he will come out on top in his long awaited return to the ring.

“He’s a good strong fighter, very powerful with a solid left hand. His record speaks for itself and it’s going to be a hard fight in my cruiserweight debut but the reward outweighs the risk,” Cleverly told the World Boxing News website

“I believe that I’ll have too much for Makubu. I’ve got the experience at world championship level and moving up to cruiserweight I’ve got added power and I’ve still got my speed and high workrate, which I don’t think Makubu, who’s heavy handed and slow, can match.

“Fighting in Monaco is a very exciting challenge, though. I’ll be fighting away from Wales so the pressure won’t be on me.

“All I’ve got to do is focus on Makubu and do the best job I can.”

Living in South Africa, Makubu trains with former welterweight world title challenger Harold Volbrecht.

And Volbrecht believes Cleverly is a good match for his fighter.

“Nathan Cleverly is quite a good fighter, about the same height as Junior too” said Volbrecht.

“But he hasn’t fought as many quality fighters as Junior. Having said that, I like the challenge posed by Cleverly; he’s the type of boxer that will make Junior look good because he’s a good boxer himself and will bring the best out of my fighter.

“He’s an outstanding opponent and we welcome the step up. I suggest he trains hard – Junior will be bringing his killer instinct to Monte Carlo.”