12:02pm Saturday 24th August 2013
JOE Calzaghe believes Nathan Cleverly can get back to the top of boxing, but admits he has cast a large shadow on the Cefn Fforest fighters’ career.
The undefeated Blackwood boxer, who was a two-weight world champion and held the WBO super middleweight title for close to 11-years, watched on aghast as Cleverly was destroyed by Russian Sergey Kovalev seven days ago at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.
The fourth round stoppage loss marked a first career defeat for Cleverly in 26 professional contests, an identical record to the one Calzaghe had at the same age. It’s far from the only comparison made between the pair, Calzaghe a mentor to Cleverly and former stablemate from Enzo Calzaghe’s Newbridge stable.
However, Calzaghe, who retired in 2009, believes Cleverly – who has hinted at retirement, aged just 26 – will box on and can get back to the top level.
“I am sure by now Nathan has watched the fight back and will see he used the wrong tactics, he had a bad night in there, it’s as simple as that,” Calzaghe told the Argus.
“Sergey Kovalev was very strong, held his ground and that was about all, I felt he was very slow and looked beatable.
“But in order to do that Nathan needed to utilise his speed, he didn’t do that and as his friend sitting at ringside, it was horrible to see him lose like that.
“It’s sad to see, but that’s boxing at the end of the day, all fighters, 99.9999% of fighters, eventually they will lose. It doesn’t define you as a fighter. That’s simple. It’s honestly like Rocky Balboa says in the movies, it’s not how hard you hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
Calzaghe knows the pressure Cleverly has had heaped on his shoulders.
“Maybe, in South Wales, because Nathan’s the first long-term world champion since me and because he’s been undefeated so far, that pressure mounted on him a little bit,” he said.
“I don’t think people in his camp should’ve been making the comparisons, but I understand it.
“First and foremost for now, Nathan needs a break, he needs to get away from it all and live life for a few weeks, eat, drink, go on holiday, be a normal guy.”
Calzaghe is hoping his friend won’t listen to ANY outside influences as he decides on his future, but believes he will box on.
“The only opinion that matters is Nathan’s, he will know what is right for him, only he can know,” Calzaghe said.
“If he decides to box on – and I think he will – Nathan must decide what is best for him, whether he stays training with his dad in South Wales or if he moves to further afield.
“But people will support him no matter what and I am confident he can get back to the top of the sport.”
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