Mikkel Kessler is preparing for his Saturday, May 25 pay-per-view showdown against IBF super middleweight world champion Carl Froch by sparring against WBO light heavyweight incumbent Nathan Cleverly and Froch’s promotional stalemate George Groves.
Brash heavyweight star Dereck Chisora says he’s ready destroy when he makes his big comeback against Argentinian Hector Alfredo Avila on Saturday, April 20 at Wembley Arena. The Former British and Commonwealth champion will feature in a ten-round contest on a packed show alongside British stars Nathan Cleverly, Paul Butler, Liam Walsh and Scott Harrison, all live and exclusive on BoxNation.
The hard-hitting Londoner has been out of the ring since July last year when he was stopped in the fifth round by rival David Haye in a thrilling fight at West Ham United’s Boleyn Ground at Upton Park that attracted over 30,000 fans – the biggest live boxing event in the UK last year – and one of the most exciting domestic heavyweight fights in recent memory.
He took WBC World Champion Vitali Klitshko the distance last February and pushed the long-reigning Ukrainian the hardest since Lennox Lewis nearly ten years previously, only to lose on the judges scorecards.
Chisora’s British Boxing Board of Control license was reissued last month after it was withdrawn last year and the Finchley puncher is now desperate to fight his way back into world title contention as soon as possible.
“I’m back in business and I’m on the road back to the world title,” said Chisora. “I’m looking to destroy Avila first at Wembley Arena and then face one of the other so called rivals next, if it’s David Price then great, I know he wouldn’t be able to stand up to my power and he’d be a good step in the right direction for me.
“It’s exciting to be back in the ring after almost a year out. I’ve been working hard in the gym with my trainer Don Charles, making changes and improving, and we’re both tunnel focused on achieving the goal of winning the world heavyweight title.
“I’m still only 29 and I’ve had only 19 fights. Aside from Haye, I took Tyson Fury the distance despite not being in the best shape, I was robbed against Robert Helenius for the European title in his backyard and then took Klitschko the distance straight after.
“The world title is my goal and I will achieve it.”
WBO world light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly believes a super-fight against new IBF king Bernard Hopkins (pictured) will tie-in with Cardiff City’s promotion to the Premier League. The 25-year-old was excited to read quotes from the American legend saying that he wants to fight him in the UK and sees him as a threat to any of the elite 175lb fighters in the division.
And Cleverly, a big Bluebirds fans and a schoolboy trialist for the club, is also eagerly anticipating Cardiff City’s return to top-flight football for the first time since 1962.
He makes the fifth defence of his title against mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi on Saturday, April 20 at Wembley Arena and then has another mandatory defence against Juergen Braehmer, but wants Hopkins straight after.
“Cardiff City are destined for the Premier League, barring any slip ups, and they’ll be facing the elite teams next season. I’ve got to get through Krasniqi and Braehmer first and then I can face my premier league of champions starting with Hopkins,” said Cleverly.
“It’s an exciting time for Welsh sport, Cardiff City entering top-flight and Wales winning the Six-Nations and me doing the business on the world scene defending my title, it can only get better and better.
“It’s great to read what Hopkins has been saying about me, he’s the ultimate warrior and doesn’t shy from any challenge. You saw how he schooled Tavoris Cloud last month to break his own record to become the oldest world champion in history. He wants to fight me so I say lets get it on, it would be an honour to share the ring with him and I’d love the challenge of beating a legend.”
Retired cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, 34, is to swap the pitch for the prize ring as, on November 30 at the Manchester Arena, the 6’4 former England captain will make his boxing debut against an opponent understood to be Oklahoma-native Richard Dawson (2-0-0, 1ko).
Words: Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Photos: Emily Harney – KZ Event Productions
Arguably the least heralded of all the light heavyweight world champions, Kazakhstani 28-year-old Beibut Shumenov successfully defended his WBA/IBA titles on Saturday, June 2 by unanimously decisioning challenger Enrique Ornelas (120-108 x3). Shumenov outclassed the Mexican – a former title challenger at super middleweight and ex incumbent of the NABF middleweight belt – before pondering the offers of three high-profile prizefighters.
At The Joint in Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Shumenov completely shut Ornelas out of contention as he collected the ten score in each and every round even though he was encumbered by an arm injury sustained during sparring, ten days prior to fight night. Ornelas refused to give up, but was too slow to cope with Shumenov, who attacked both the head and body throughout, timed uppercuts to perfection and landed right hands on multiple occasions.
On the victory, that sees his record rise to 13-1-0, 8ko, Shumenov said: “I trained very hard because I knew he [Ornelas] is very tough. His defence was very good. I wasn’t able to show my best because of the arm injury I suffered. I’m happy with the win.” Ornelas, meanwhile, fell to 33-8-0, 21ko as Beibut secured his fourth successful title defence having also triumphed over Danny Santiago, William Joppy and Vyacheslav Uzelkov since claiming the belts off Gabriel Campillo.
Shumenov, having paid his dues as a representative of the WBA, will now look at a trident of lucrative contracts from one future hall-0f-famer, one former super middleweight ruler and one undefeated star in his homeland. Promoter Don Chargrin confirmed: “We have three great offers from [Bernard] Hopkins (52,6-2, 32ko), [Mikkel] Kessler (45-2-0, 34ko) and [Nathan] Cleverly (24-0-0, 11ko).”
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Bernard Hopkins suffered a career setback at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City last weekend, his sixth in total as a professional, as he dropped a decision to the younger, taller and faster Chad Dawson, losing his WBC light heavyweight world championship as a result. However, that has not deterred the legendary Philadelphian from continuing his quest to further enhance his pugilistic legacy and ward off father time; a notion backed by the current incumbent Bad Chad.
Hopkins lost by two scores of 117-111 (an accepted points split according to consensus) with one judge seeing a 114-114 tie. As has become typical with a Hopkins performance, Bernard attempted to snuff out any rhythm his opponent attempted to build up and, even though against Dawson this tactic proved relatively successful, Hopkins – the self-styled Old Mongoose – was just too conservative in his own punch output to warrant a greater slice of point pie, especially when compared to the more active Chad.
“I fought hard Saturday night and feel the fight was closer than two of the scores reflected,” Hopkins (52-6-2, 32ko) said, on reflection of the majority decision loss.
Dawson, who now holds the WBC title (his third full championship at 175lbs), now has a number of match-ups available to him including a rematch with Jean Pascal in order to avenge his sole pro defeat, together with an all-American pound-for-pound tussle with super middleweight supremo Andre Ward.
The other belt holders at light heavyweight include Tavoris Cloud who makes a defence of his IBF title in August against Pascal, Beibut Shumenov who champions the WBA belt and is without an opponent and undefeated Welshman Nathan Cleverly, the WBO world titlist.
“Regardless of the result, I will continue my career and challenge any champion in my division,” Hopkins continued. “I might be older, but I don’t feel a decline in my skills or abilities in the ring. I love to fight and am still competing at a level where boxing cannot deny me the opportunity to succeed.”
Dawson concluded that the three other alphabet rulers better watch out: “He can still beat anyone else in our division.”
On The Beak – Admin
Promoter Frank Warren will stage the first world title show at the Royal Albert Hall in over a decade when British star Nathan Cleverly headlines the legendary venue on Saturday, April 28. Unbeaten Cleverly, who defeated American Tommy Karpency last month, will make the fourth defence of his WBO light heavyweight world title against the number four ranked Robin Krasniqi, subject to confirmation from the WBO.
The 25-year-old from Cefn Fforest will be the first Welshman in a championship fight at the venue since Joe Calzaghe defeated Stephen Wilson in 1995. Serbian Krasniqi, who is based in Germany, has a top record of 37 wins from 39 fights and his only two losses were on points early in his career. He won the European WBO title last October with a fourth round stoppage of Abdelkahim Derghal and defended it against Hakim Zoulikha in January, stopping him in the twelfth round.
The show will be televised live and exclusive on the BoxNation, which will also cover Bernard Hopkins’ highly anticipated WBC 175lb title rematch with Chad Dawson live from Atlantic City later that night.
Warren brought boxing back to the Albert Hall last October when he staged the Royal Albert Hall Cup for the charity Tickets For Troops that saw a combined UK Armed Forces team take on their US counterparts in a special Transatlantic amateur tournament. And it was the Hall of Fame promoter who last staged world championship boxing there in 1999 when Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera defended his WBO super bantamweight world title against Paul Lloyd.
Some of the biggest names in British boxing have fought at the Royal Albert Hall including Sir Henry Cooper, Frank Bruno, Lennox Lewis and Prince Naseem Hamed and Warren is looking to add one of the biggest names under his banner to the illustrious list.
Warren said: “I’m delighted to bring big time world championship boxing back to the Royal Albert Hall next month with one of Britain’s biggest and brightest stars in Nathan. We had a tremendous reception for our Tickets For Troops event in October that saw amateurs from the UK and US Armed Forces fight it out for the Royal Albert Hall Cup and the demand is there to see world championship boxing.
“Subject to confirmation from the WBO, Nathan has got a tough defence against Krasniqi who’s never been stopped in 39 fights and is ranked number four so it’s going to be a hard test for him.”
Cleverly said: “It’s great to be the first boxer in over ten years to open up the doors to the famous venue to boxing again. I love boxing in London and I’m over the moon that Frank has put on my world title defence at the iconic landmark and it will be the start of many big shows. It’s a who’s who of boxing who have fought at the Albert Hall and to add my name alongside greats like Lewis, Hamed, Nigel Benn and Joe Calzaghe is a real honour and dream.
“It’s a good omen that Joe was the last Welshman to box there for a title when he beat Stephen Wilson for the British super-middleweight title in 1995, so I’ll be looking to carry on the Welsh winning run there. Krasniqi got a good record and he’s bound to be a hard test for me. The better the opponents, the better I perform and Krasniqi will bring out the best in me.
“I’ll also be keeping a close eye later that night from the action in Atlantic City between Hopkins and Dawson and will be looking to face the winner.”
On The Beak – Admin
Promoter Frank Warren has stated that Nathan Cleverly could defend his WBO world light heavyweight title for the fourth time as boxing returns to London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall on April 28. It would be the first time boxing has been held at the venue this century… the last bout there was between Julius Francis and Danny Williams for the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles in 1999.
Speaking at the post fight press conference following Cleverly’s shut-out victory over Tommy Karpency on his homecoming to Wales, Warren believes that Cleverly (24-0-0, 11ko) is the best man to take boxing back to the Royal Albert Hall.
He said: “There has been no professional boxing there for many, many years, it is probably the best venue in the country, the most prestigious venue. You could not get a better name and a better representative for British boxing than Nathan, to showcase professional boxing back there but we’ll sort that out in one or two days.”
He added: “I don’t know if Nathan will be ready for that but I would not mind him being the guy to take boxing back there.”
If Cleverly were to fight on April 28, it would coincide with Bernard Hopkins’ rematch with Chad Dawson in defence of his WBC world light heavyweight title and Warren hinted of a more direct link between Cleverly and the big name Americans.
“Nathan is coming on in leaps and bounds and all our attention will now of course turn to April 28 and the Bernard Hopkins versus Chad Dawson fight, then we will be making a big decision about a fight in the summer.
“Nathan needs big fights, he rises to them and he has a fabulous temperament.”
On being asked about the possibility, Cleverly seemed keen to stay busy. He said: “I’ll be fine for April, I’ll be good. I can keep active and it won’t hurt as well, a few more fights as world champion to gain experience as world champion is good.”
Although no opponent is certain, Cleverly knows what he wants: “It’s important that as world champion we get good quality fights, a world ranked opponent to keep my progression going as world champion ready for the step up to the unification fights.”
Tommy Barber – London
Nathan Cleverly extended his reign as WBO light heavyweight world champion as he won every round against challenger Tommy Karpency at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales on Saturday, February 25. Cleverly’s conditioning and left hooks to the body overshadowed anything Karpency did, who failed to really pull the trigger and showed sparring partner instincts by surviving to hear the final bell.
Official verdict: Cleverly wins by way of unanimous decision.
Wales is two-thirds of it’s way into completing a unique sporting hat-trick in a single weekend as, following on from the Welsh national rugby union team’s last-gasp 19-12 victory over England at Twickenham in the Six Nations, and on the eve of Cardiff City Football Club’s attempt to claim the League Cup against Liverpool on Sunday, Nathan Cleverly smashed his way through American challenger Tommy Karpency to make a successful third defence of the WBO light heavyweight world title.
With his chin tucked in and his gloves protecting, Cleverly showed good hand-speed and fought on the front-foot as he assessed Karpency, who was able to hook around the champion’s head-high guard. A piston-like jab, an accurate overhand right and sporadic head movement gave Cleverly the win in the first stanza.
In the second round, Cleverly popped the one-two combination out with increasing regularity, while also thudding his left into Karpency’s ribs. Bossing the contest with his punch output and retention of the centre of the ring, Karpency was limited to minor flurries which landed on the Welshman’s gloves.
Karpency had a better third round, landing shots to the champion’s face but his own midsection was reddening due to Cleverly’s continued attention to the body. Cleverly is oft criticised for being perceived as a fighter with vast holes in his defensive game but versus Tommy, his guard did it’s job of blocking and parrying. His attack, as has been his tradition, was his best asset as he systematically beat Karpency up with a pressure-fighting tactic.
Such physical abuse had taken it’s toll on Karpency as, between rounds, his father/trainer implored Tommy to back Cleverly up but the fighter had the look of a beaten man, shook his head and said he was too tired – a clear consequence of all the body shots Cleverly had pounded him with. Midway through the fifth, Karpency kept his right arm down, as if to protect his side from Cleverly’s left hand but, when he did so, Cleverly would instead target the head, forcing Karpency to raise his guard again.
In the sixth, Clev combined the left hook to the body with the uppercut. Karpency did throw more, buoyed by the motivation from his corner, but Cleverly’s unwilting pressure yielded rewards as he forced Karpency into retreat with hook shots and left uppercuts. Right hands directed flush onto the jaw in the seventh made the challenger think twice about re-entering an exchange of slugs and he remained timid on the outside.
Cleverly had Karpency backed against the red corner for much of round nine as the opponent covered up, only returning single fire shots while a furious Cleverly changed into a higher gear, laying shot after shot after shot onto the American like he was his trainer’s mitts in the gym at Planet Fitness in Aberbargoed. The sustained attack finally made Karpency accept he couldn’t take it and he motioned away from the danger zone.
Showing good energy, incredible fitness, swift fists and a relentless punch output, Cleverly closed the fight like he had started it, in the ascendancy, with the ten scores in all the rounds to shut Karpency out completely. The challenger landed a paltry 87 shots from 692 thrown (a 13 percent success rate) which paled in comparison to the 374 punches Cleverly landed from a staggering 987 thrown (38 percent).
“I can tell you one thing,” began Clev – who has shared a ring with Tony Bellew and Karo Murat – to BoxNation after his points triumph. “Out of every light heavyweights I’ve fought, he hits the hardest and I’ve met some big punchers.
“I landed a few body shots, I thought he was wilting but he has good experience and he began to relax. He’s strong and very durable. I had to settle for points in the end. I didn’t take too many shots. There’s plenty more to come from me,” he added.
Prominent British boxing promoter Frank Warren commented that he still hopes to land Cleverly a unification fight in a football stadium. He said: “Hopefully we’ll go for a unification fight… I’ve been talking to Golden Boy about Bernard Hopkins but I think Chad Dawson may have [Hopkins'] number.
“I think Hopkins will bring out the best in Cleverly, we’d do a great show in Millennium Stadium or in Cardiff City.”
Cleverly preserved his unbeaten streak in professional boxing and moves to 24-0-0, 11ko.
Tommy Barber – London
Reigning WBO light heavyweight world champion Nathan Cleverly returns to the ring on Saturday, February 25 to defend his belt against American southpaw Tommy Karpency at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. In order to ready himself for the fight, Cleverly has changed gyms and focused on improving his own skill-set, rather than study and find flaws in his 26-year-old opponent.
“Preparation has been excellent and I’m very, very satisfied with the way it’s gone,” said Cleverly, who makes the third defence of his world title having already slain Aleksy Kuziemski and Tony Bellew during his tenure atop the WBO charts. “Mentally I feel focused and just so excited to go now.”
Predominantly trained by Vince Cleverly, the father and son duo have swapped gyms and hit the mitts and engaged in strength and conditioning work at a new facility; the Planet Fitness Gym in Aberbargoed, a small town in Caerphilly, the Welsh county Clev (23-0-0, 11ko) resides in.
“I feel as though this is one of the better camps that I’ve done, it’s the best I’ve been in terms of mental focus,” Cleverly explained.
“I’ve had the right preparation and the right length of time to train for the fight, I was given good notice. It’s been a good camp and one of the best I’ve done.
“I’ll have another good hard spar, one more before the fight and then I think that will be the final hard session before the fight and before we start tapering it down.”
The last time Cleverly boxed a southpaw was in 2008, during his time as champion of the Commonwealth when he knocked Douglas Otieno Okola out in four rounds. Almost four years have passed since he defeated the 30-year-old Kenyan but Cleverly appears unfazed about facing a portside pug after such a lengthy spell tackling orthodox fighters as, instead of assessing Karpency’s posturing, he has sought to improve his own style during current camp.
“As always, I’m focusing on more what I can do in the fight, what I can improve on and I’ve been learning some things myself. I’ve had a little look at Karpency to get an idea of what he’s about – his stance, style, the way he fights but I’m more concentrating on my technique and taking that into the ring.”
What is particularly noteworthy about the duel, is that it is staged in Wales, a country that has not hosted world championship boxing since a thrilling super middleweight unification fight in 2007, between Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler… a bout that was watched by 55,000 fans at the gate inside the Millenium Stadium.
“I think there’s a lot more hype around the fight, there’s more of a buzz and a lot of excitement because it’s a homecoming event. A lot of people are looking forward to the event and it’s been a long time since a world title fight has taken place in Wales – so for me to bring that back is a special personal feeling for me,” Cleverly concluded.
His opponent, Karpency (21-2-0, 14ko), has been training mostly in Pennsylvania and, like Cleverly, is coached by his father; Tom Karpency Sr. Junior has never stepped up to world championship level before but has boxed abroad, albeit resulting in defeat to Karo Murat in Oldenburg, Germany.
A fighter, Karpency has noted, that also appears on Cleverly’s resume. Nathan, though, defeated Murat but Karpency is buoyed by the competitive nature of that tussle and believes he also has tools that will ask questions of the champion.
(Embedded video above credit – YouTube, Heraldstandardmedia)