NATHAN Cleverly’s rotten luck has continued after he suffered another injury that will delay his return to the ring, writes Michael Pearlman.
The 26-year old from Cefn Fforest, who trains in Bargoed and Blackwood with his father Vince, was scheduled to face Illunga Makubu in Monte Carlo on February 1 in his return to the ring after losing his world title.
However, Cleverly, who has moved up to cruiserweight, has suffered a reoccurrence of a back injury in training and has been forced to withdraw.
This is the third time Cleverly has seen a return to the ring delayed.
He was scheduled to face Australian Daniel Amman in November, 2013 at the London Copper Box Arena and then again on February 8, 2014.
However, Cleverly missed the November clash with a back strain and then saw the February date cancelled in order for him to challenge Makubu.
The contest was originally scheduled as a WBA title eliminator, but that wasn’t sanctioned by the WBA.
Cleverly will now most likely return on a Frank Warren show in the UK in either March or April once his injury is healed, but that hasn’t stopped the promoter of the Monte Carlo show, Rodney Berman, from criticising the champion.
“I knew he’d pull out,” fumed Berman. “He’s not a true champion, I always felt that. Whatever excuse Cleverly is making, I know he hasn’t been injured.
“He pulled out because he realised he had no chance against Makabu. Everyone said that when the fight was signed and it obviously dawned on him.
“I always suspected he was molly-coddled.”
Cleverly's promoter Frank Warren said he hopes his charge will not be sidelined for long.
“He has sustained a minor injury (the Argus understands it is a back problem) and will not be fighting in Monte Carlo on February 1 and we are about to re-schedule a fight for him,” he said.
Frank Warren’s spokesperson Richard Maynard confirmed that though Cleverly is injured, it is hoped he won’t be absent for too long.
Warren believes Cleverly will get back to the top of the sport sooner rather than later, despite losing his WBO light heavyweight title to Sergey Kovalev in his last outing.
"He is only a young man at 26 years of age, he has plenty of gas still left in the tank,” Warren said.
"And I do believe that on his day, he is a formidable fighter... he can re-establish himself.”