The Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor Circus is almost upon us. Four days out, this fight feels about as relevant to real life boxing as Rocky Balboa vs. Mason “The Line” Dixon. But there are relevant fights on this card.
Nathan Cleverly vs. Badou Jack is one of them. Jack was, overall, a talented fighter at super middleweight. I would have enjoyed seeing him in a rematch with James DeGale–I had DeGale winning a narrow decision against him last January.
But Jack is 33 and might benefit from a jump up in weight. At the same time, the talent roster at 175 is much deeper, so he will be challenged to stand out in the crowd.
Cleverly is an opponent who will give him that opportunity. But it is unlikely to be an easy night of work. At 30, the Welshman is an experienced veteran contender. Cleverly might be best known for getting blown out in four rounds by Sergey Kovalev in August 2013. But his resume is one of the deepest in the division.
Cleverly has split close fights with Tony Bellew. He has wins over Karo Murat, Nadjib Mohammedi, Tommy Karpency and Juergen Braehmer, among others. He is a busy, action fighter. The third loss on his resume was to Andrzej Fonfara by UD in October 2015, a full-on war that broke the record for punches thrown in a light heavyweight bout.
So Jack is hopping right into the deep waters at 175 pounds. Jack’s own resume at 168 is very solid–he defeated Anthony Dirrell and George Groves, both high level contenders. I thought he deserved to lose against DeGale, but he made it a very competitive bout, and that fight was for true championship status at 168 pounds.
Jack’s only real setback was a February 2014 Round 1 TKO against Derek Edwards. Edwards caught him cold with a slip and compact counter left early in the fight and Jack was unable to recover.