Cleverly knows he fought wrong kind of fight
8:02am Wednesday 21st August 2013 in Sport
NATHAN Cleverly has admitted he didn’t feel he did himself justice in losing his WBO light heavyweight title, but feels the credit belongs to the victor Sergey Kovalev.
Cleverly’s sixth defence of his crown was a nightmare, the huge-hitting Russian having the Cefn Fforest man down three times either side of the bell to end the third round.
The ex-Cardiff University student hadn’t been on the canvas before Saturday and admits his strategy of trading punches with Kovalev was a foolish one.
Cleverly also paid tribute to the power of his opponent who is set for the big time with some bumper paydays potentially on the horizon and a TV deal with HBO secured.
“ I thought I'd just let Kovalev have the first round and I thought I edged the second and had started to win the third round and then I got caught and once he hurt me he sensed that and he just went for the kill. He's got a good killer instinct on him and he took his chance. It's a shame really. It's a shame I didn't get to take him into my part of the fight, the second half, but once he hurt me he just didn't let me off the hook,” Cleverly explained.
“To be honest, when I get caught sometimes I lose my style, my form. I've never really executed my defence in the gym too much, I've always been an attacking fighter and I've always just instinctively gone on my defence and when he caught me I think I showed some inexperience, I didn't cover up too well, left openings for the follow up shots and he's very accurate and he found the openings with his accuracy and credit to him for that.
“But I think I showed a bit of inexperience when I got caught, I tried to hold, he kind of denied me that and his leg movement... He kept his range so it allowed him to tee-off on me. He was setting me up for the big shots. It was very difficult. He's a class fighter who's got the distance, got that timing and when he's got you going he knows how to finish you and he was good. It was good killer instinct from him and partly bad defensive work from me.”
Cleverly felt Kovalev showed his class throughout, but has defended himself against those who claimed Wales’ first world champion in half a decade had been over protected.
“You look at The Ring magazine top 10 and Kovalev's the third top 10 guy I've fought in The Ring magazine rankings and that takes all the rankings in order, that's Kovalev, Bellew and Murat and I've fought three of them and I'm one of the top 10, too,” he said.
“That's not bad going. In fairness, a lot of people tar me because I'm a Frank Warren fighter, I think I get tarred with that brush and obviously there may have been a few soft defences in there which are no fault of my own. If I had my way, I would have been straight to the unification fights. I wanted Shumenov and Tavoris Cloud as soon as I became world champion but boxing never happens like that. The politics doesn't allow you to make fights like that straight away. It's unfortunate.
“The so called soft defences, you get a bit of money in the bank. It's not great money but it keeps you ticking over and it builds you up ready for that big fight. This was a big fight but like I said, Kovalev was relatively an unknown but we know who he is now because he's exceptional, that guy.”