10:16am Wednesday 14th August 2013
By Andrew Penman
WBO world light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly will lead out the Wales football team tonight for their friendly against the Republic of Ireland at Cardiff City Stadium.
The undefeated Cefn Fforest hero has also been given the prestigious role of also carrying the match ball and will be announced to the crowd ahead of his big title defence against big hitting Russian Sergey Kovalev this Saturday at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.
“It’s a great honour and a sense of pride to be asked by the Welsh FA to lead the national team out and carry the match ball for the big game,” said Cleverly, who is looking forward to getting back in the ring on Saturday.
“I believe my progress has been very satisfying,” said Cleverly.
“My last few fights have been particularly good learning experiences for a future on the top world stage.
“I don’t expect the home crowd will unduly affect Sergey too much,” he added. “He comes across as a ‘no nonsense’ sort of character who just comes to fight.
“Knowing he’s so dangerous has certainly kept me on my toes in training but I’ll win because I bring the better all round package.
“Kovalev’s a banger who’s accurate and a decent boxer but, it terms of skill, speed, sharpness, fitness, speed chin, I beat this guy. I expect to stop him mid way too late.”
A win would set up a clash with US legend Bernard Hopkins in Cleverly’s mind.
“Hopkins is definitely the way forward for me,” he said.
“An impressive victory on Saturday will open a heck of a lot of doors. Hopefully I’ll secure the US TV deal I need to make the biggest fights happen.”
Remaining tickets are available from the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena box office on 02920 224 488 or Eventim on 0844 249 1000 or www.eventim.co.uk
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