WORLD champion Nathan Cleverly admits he doesn’t deserve to be crowned Welsh Sports Personality of the Year, insisting 2013 will be his time to shine.
The Cefn Fforest boxing champ goes up against the likes of football star Gareth Bale, Olympic heroine Jade Jones, Newport Gwent Dragons ace Dan Lydiate and Tredegar’s Paralympic champion Mark Col-bourne for the BBC award next week.
But, despite defending his WBO light-heavyweight title for the fourth time with an impressive eighth round stoppage of American Shawn Hawk last month, Cleverly is not expecting to win the public vote.
“I’m looking forward to it, I think it’s the fourth year in a row I’ve been up for the award,” said the 25-year-old.
“I’m glad to be in the mix again and it’s obviously good to be recognized but I’m not expecting anything this year.
“I feel like this year has been dominated by the Olympics and Para-lympics so the winner will probably reflect that.
“If I’m honest I probably don’t deserve to win it this year. Next year will be my year.
“I’m looking to line up some big fights and really make a statement in 2013.
“I’ll remain patient, keep winning and I’m sure the awards will come.”
Cleverly has been on holiday since beating Hawk at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles and has had time to reflect on a frustrating year.
He only fought twice, stopping Hawk in November and dominating fellow American Tommy Karpency in Cardiff in February.
Scheduled bouts at the Royal Albert Hall in April and in Cardiff in October failed to take place and the division’s big names once again avoided the relatively unknown Welshman.
But Cleverly is hoping his victory in the US will change that and he can soon look forward to facing the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Beibut Shumenov and Tavoris Cloud.
“It has been a slow year but I think the American experience was very positive for me,” he said.
“The fight went to plan, I got the stoppage win I wanted and I impressed some influential figures.
“Working at the Wild Card Gym with Freddie Roach was great too and is something I’ll definitely think about doing again soon.
“I can only improve next year. Next up will probably be the mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi in February.
“Once that is out of the way I’ll concentrate on the bigger fights and making it a year to remember.”