Cleverly vs. Kovalev Preview
By Tom Mauriello, Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Brooklyn, NY (August 15th, 2013)– This Saturday from the Wales Motorpoint Arena in the United Kingdom, fight fans will be blessed with a potential fight of the year candidate as Nathan Cleverly (26-0-0(12KO’s) takes on Sergey Kovalev (21-0-1(19KO’s) for the WBO Light Heavyweight Title. Cleverly has already promised for this fight to be an explosion, and if you have seen these two in the ring prior to Saturday night, you will know that this is not a marketing ploy. These boys come to fight!
This will be Cleverly’s six defense of his WBO title, but he is facing is toughest opponent to date. Cleverly is a smart counter puncher who makes you pay every time you miss. His movement is his best asset and will be his best tactic in this fight. He forces you to chase and engage with him, and once you do you he attacks. His bodywork has broken down his former opponents, most notably his left hook to the body. Cleverly is an aggressive fighter, but intelligent with it. He chooses his attacks wisely, and baits you with slick head movement and feints. He also has a great gas tank as shown in his last fight against Robin Kraniqi where he dominated till the final bell with an up-tempo pace.
Sergey Kovalev is a different kind of animal. This man has dynamite in both hands and jumps on you as soon as the bell sounds. He is not looking for a decision. The man has averaged 3 rounds in his professional career and if you watch his highlight reel you will see why. He throws sharp accurate combinations that all come off of his jab. He works you with the left hand and masks the big right that he is looking to put you away with. Kovlev does not come in with the intent of looking for the big knockout, the power punches come naturally, which makes him very scary. Nothing is forced, and his combinations are crisp. My only critique is that he just comes north. His last opponent Cornelius White (though dominated) was attempting to use his athleticism to keep Kovlev guessing. He was put down in three short rounds, but for a second took Kovlev out of his comfort zone with East and West movement. Trainers should be screaming for constant movement and a stick and move game plan against the big puncher.
A very good match on paper, in a classic puncher – boxer set up. Cleverly is the better boxer here, but by a slim margin. Though Kovlev is a puncher, he is a boxer puncher. He is not going into fights wailing away looking for the homerun. Though aggressive, his power punches are set up well. I doubt Cleverly will allow Kovlev to get off as he wants. He will use his movement and make Kovlev chase. Kovlev has not been passed 8 rounds, and he took home a split decision victory in that outing. The later rounds will not favor Kovlev. As mentioned before, Cleverly has a gas tank that can carry him into the later rounds where he can be just as vicious.
Cleverly must not allow Kovlev to get comfortable or find his range. Cleverly also likes to fight with his hands low to engage his opponents, which will not be wise to do against Kovlev. He has to weather Kovlev’s initial storm who will come out of the gate swinging. Cleverly needs to use his savvy defense to evade Kovlev’s punches, and attack the body to slow him down. The last thing Cleverly wants is a war, you cannot stand and trade with a bruiser such as Kovlev.
Kovlev should jump on him early and continue to punch until those big shots start to land. If Kovlev imposes his will and bullies Cleverly around the ring, Cleverly has yet to be hit by a puncher such as Kovlev. This is the perfect outing to test that chin and try to put him away.
I do not expect much of a chess match or feeling out process, it will be two bulls locking horns in the middle of the ring, neither of which want to go home with that first L in the win loss column. It will certainly be a great fight, don’t blink fans, you might just miss it.
TV: LIVE on BoxNation, (Sky Ch. 437, Virgin Ch. 546) Time 18:00GMT
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