Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Nathan Cleverly is preparing for his second WBO light heavyweight world title defence against fierce domestic rival Tony Bellew on Saturday, October 15, by sparring with two of England’s premier prizefighters: current British and Commonwealth super middleweight belt holder George Groves and former two-weight world champion David Haye. Cleverly has been enjoying a “sparring camp” at the Hayemaker Gym in London.
Sparring the two Hayemaker hotshots will stand Cleverly (22-0-0, 11ko) in good stead for what to expect against Bellew. Primarily associated with his desire to blast his opponents away, Bellew (16-0-0, 10ko) displayed – in his rematch with Ovill McKenzie – an ability to box patiently and in a disciplined manner.
Groves, like Bellew, was more known for his desire to fight whilst coming forwards and take the fight to mid-range and the inside. However, Groves showed against James DeGale that he could out-box a boxer. Likewise, Haye was a fierce cruiserweight with explosive knockout power, but became more reliant on his ability to evade and focused more on his defence when he made the move up to heavyweight.
Cleverly was awarded the WBO world title when Juergen Braehmer pulled of their contest earlier in the year. He entered the ring on May 21 as champion and secured his first defence against Aleksy Kuziemski.
Bellew could provide a sterner challenge than Kuziemski and the two have already been involved in a heated verbal jousting session. The animosity, perhaps, further confounded by Bellew’s decision to enlist the services of Enzo Maccarinelli, a former gym partner of Cleverly’s, as a spar partner of his own.
“I see that Tony Bellew and Enzo Maccarinelli think they are being smart teaming up against me,” Cleverly noted. “Enzo was a friend of mine but that’s how it goes sometimes in boxing. Groves is a different league, a different class and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t upset about the situation with Enzo. It shows bitterness but they’ll probably hurt each other in sparring. They both struggle in that department [punch resistance] so they’ll probably knock each other out.”