FORMER light-heavyweight world champion Nathan Cleverly says he knew he wanted to return to boxing the moment he got that ‘Rocky feeling’, writes Andrew Penman.
The Cefn Fforest star was rocked by defeat to Sergey Kovalev last August and considered hanging up his gloves aged just 27.
But, after nine months out of the ring, Cleverly insists he’s got the hunger back as he prepares to take on Trinidad & Tobago veteran Shawn Corbin in his cruiserweight debut tomorrow.
“I did consider my future in boxing,” admitted Cleverly. “I thought ‘do I really want this anymore?’
“But there came a time after about four or five months when I got that buzz again.
“I got that Rocky feeling again; I wanted to get back to the gym, back to training and the sweat and the hard work.
“I was waiting for that moment and I felt it. That adrenaline is a great feeling.”
Cleverly returns to Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, the same venue as his defeat to Kovalev, with a new trainer in Darren Wilson and a new promoter in Eddie Hearn and says this is a new start for him.
“I’m starting from scratch. It’s back to basics and that’s not always a bad thing,” said Cleverly.
“When everything gets on top of you then you start again and the journey on the way up, from zero to world champion, is a wonderful journey.
“It’s great to be starting a new journey in Wales because I want to eradicate the memory of that last loss in Cardiff.
“It’s the same venue but the sooner I get in there and eradicate the memory of that loss the better.
“Initially it was difficult because it was my first defeat and it’s something I’ve never had to deal with before,” he added.
“But as the weeks went on and I went on holiday and just enjoyed normal life I’ve come to terms with it.
“I’ve got back in the gym now and prepared for this fresh start and I’m excited.”
Cleverly is joint top of the bill with St Joseph’s star Lee Selby, who takes on Mexican Romulo Koasicha in an eliminator for the WBC world title.
And fellow St Joes fighter Gary Buckland also faces a rematch with Newbridge’s Gavin Rees, who is set to retire after the fight.
The show starts at 5.45pm and is live on Sky Sports from 7.30pm.