Nathan Cleverly inspired by Wales rugby boys
CEFN Fforest fighter Nathan Cleverly is ready to once again share the stage with the Welsh rugby team... and he insists he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The undefeated WBO light-heavyweight world champion defends his title on March 16 at London’s Wembley Arena against Robin Krasniqi, the same day England descend on the Welsh capital for their Six Nations showdown with Rob Howley’s side.
Incredibly it is the seventh time Cleverly has shared the spotlight with a Wales rugby match and he insists he draws inspiration from the sense of unity created in the Principality when the boys in red take to the field.
His first major victory over Tony Quigley shared the stage with a routine Welsh win over Canada in 2006, while matches against the English have proved particularly fruitful.
Cleverly knocked out Samson Onyango in 2009 just hours before Wales flattened England 23-15 and last year he dominated Tommy Karpency on the same day that Wales triumphed 19-12 at Twickenham.
The 25-year old, who turns 26 next week, also won the European title in 2010 on the day Wales beat Scotland 31-24 and his only experience of a Wales defeat was in 2011 when his triumph over domestic rival Tony Bellew couldn’t lift the gloom after the agonising World Cup semi final defeat to France.
Even Cleverly’s last fight, in Los Angeles against Shawn Hawk, shared the stage with the Autumn International defeat to Argentina.
“There have been lots of double-headers but I’m a big fan of the rugby and Wales usually give me a boost going into the fight,” he said.
“Unfortunately the Wales v France semi final was a heartbreaker. The England game is again this year and it makes it a great day for Welsh sport.
“The fans love it, it’s an excuse for a day of drinking and watching the two sporting events, for a small country it’s great and, win or lose, I am inspired by the rugby team.”
Cardiff fan Cleverly is also a big football follower and led out the national team in their recent friendly with Austria.
He’s close friends with Gareth Bale and is hoping the Totten-ham star will come to watch him fight. “Gareth is a good friend, he’s been to watch me train and I know Craig Bellamy is also a big boxing fan.
“Gareth is a keen follower of my fights and hopefully he’ll come, he’d be very welcome.”
Cleverly also revealed that with his next scheduled fight being a mandatory defence with German Juergen Braehmer, Bernard Hopkins has to beat Tavoris Cloud for the IBF title or their potential showdown later this year will be “dead in the water”.