Nathan Cleverly victory not unusual
CEFN Fforest fighter Nathan Cleverly feels his “exciting style” can’t have failed to impress the American audience after his dazzling eighth-round stoppage of Shawn Hawk.
The WBO world light-heavyweight champion ensured his undefeated professional record remained intact in an eye-catching manner on Saturday night in Los Angeles, flooring his opponent three times before referee Tony Crebs waved it off.
And although the Staples Centre was far from full when Cleverly entered the ring, the cameras of Showtime were running, providing the 25-year-old with a perfect opportunity to finally carve out a name for himself in the USA.
Cleverly is now chasing a unification showdown with any of his fellow light-heavyweight champions – WBA holder Beibut Shumenov, IBF king Tavoris Cloud or WBC champion Chad Dawson – but could well start the next phase of his career by meeting Bernard Hopkins at the Millennium Stadium.
“But I felt great early on and thought the writing was on the wall for him – I felt unstoppable in there.
“I’ve enjoyed the experience and feel I made the most of a great opportunity of fighting in the States.
“I got some good exposure on American TV and I think the crowd enjoyed the fight.
“They booed me as I went in but some fans gave me a standing ovation when I left the ring, which shows my exciting style can win people over here.
“It is an exciting time for me and this proves I’m ready for the States, I just hope their best fighters are ready to fight me.”
Cleverly admits it was a nice boost, both for his morale and profile, to have actor Mickey Rourke and Welsh singer Tom Jones with him for his ring-walk.
“Sir Tom and Mickey were going to carry the belt into the ring,” said Cleverly.
“I thought, however, the fight was coming close and I didn’t think they’d turn up as there was no sign of them!
“But all of a sudden, 10 minutes before the ring-walk, in they step and that gave me a real boost. I suppose they were being fashionably late!
“Mickey is a cracking guy and Tom is a Welsh legend who is known and respected around the world – it was an honour to have them both in my team.
“Although it is quite surreal, my mum, Jackie, loves Tom Jones and she’d have been well chuffed.”
Cleverly is expecting his performance to have forced people to take notice.
“I came to America and the unknown,” said Cleverly.
“I had a late replacement opponent and that can be dangerous as he came in with nothing to lose. He was quite a big puncher with a good knockout record. But I took care of him and now it’s onwards and upwards.”
Cleverly’s next move might be more simple, the WBO ordering him to defend his world title against the number one WBO challenger Robin Krasniqi, probably in Germany in February.