MATCHROOM’S Hearn has promised to deliver Nathan Cleverly a world title shot and a fight with hated rival Tony Bellew, but admits he’s braced for a battle with promoter Frank Warren.
As exclusively revealed in Argus Sport yesterday, Cleverly was unveiled as the “latest addition to the Matchroom team,” at a press conference in Cardiff Bay to promote Matchroom’s ‘Second Coming’ show at the Motorpoint Arena on May 17.
Warren, who has managed and promoted Cleverly since he turned pro, has already made it unequivocally clear to Argus Sport that as far as he is concerned, Cleverly remains contracted to him.
However, rival Hearn is already planning for a long-term future with the Cefn Fforest fighter, the Argus understands they’ve agreed a rolling deal that will be re-negotiated on a fight-by-fight basis. Cleverly has also relocated to Wales after an unsuccessful trial with trainer Adam Booth. He’ll now work with conditioning coach Darren Wilson.
And Hearn is promising big things for Cleverly, including a rematch with Bellew, who he beat in Liverpool in 2012. Bellew, also now campaigning at cruiserweight, recently explained that he “hates,” the Maths graduate from Cardiff University.
“Conversations with Nathan started in the last week, I’ve been a big fan of Nathan Cleverly and he’s coming back at cruiserweight and with Tony Bellew in the stable, that’ll be a fight that makes sense for everybody.
“It makes sense for Nathan to return in Cardiff and we were coming here regardless, but it’s exciting times.
“Nathan is out of contract, like we’ve seen on numerous occasions I am sure there will be some disgruntled people, but we take the best (legal) advice and everyone is happy to move forward.
“It’s a new era for Nathan Cleverly at a new weight and it’s going to be a very different thing. The show could’ve gone on without Nathan, but having him on the bill makes another big, big statement.
“It’s not a case of why do we need Nathan on this show, he’s one of the best boxers in Britain and any promoter would like to have on their show.
“It’s about moving forward. The long-term goal is the Bellew fight, that’s what we are gearing up to, but both of them the priority is a world title.
“But from a money and exposure point of view, Cleverly v Bellew is the biggest fight out there for either of them. It’s a two or three year plan. Nathan is part of our long term plans.
“I’d like Nathan to have two more fights before they meet at the end of the year, it’s the fight everyone wants to see though.”
Cleverly expressed excitement at returning to the ring for the first time in eight months since losing his WBO light heavyweight title to Sergey Kovalev.
"It's chapter two for me. I've had a bit of time off and I decided to team up with Eddie," said Cleverly.
"Matchroom and Sky Sports is the place to be to get back to the top and I can't wait to get back in there - let's bring it on."
Reflecting on a possible second bout with Bellew, Cleverly said: "I think it's inevitable. We're both on a collision course; we're now in the same weight division.
"We've already had one great fight, which was an entertaining, crowd pleasing fight, so I think the fight fans want to see it. Bellew wants the fight; I want the rematch as well. Even though I won the first fight, I'm prepared to give him a rematch. I'm sure we'll get it on."
The Motorpoint Arena bill will also feature Lee Selby, who is edging closer to a world title shot, and Hearn hopes to land a WBC final eliminator for the talented featherweight.
"I'm so close to achieving my dream of being WBC champion," said Selby.
"I think I am good enough to hold my own with any featherweight in the world, but I want to win the title and defend it, so that's the goal that we are building towards."
Also set for action in Cardiff is Newbridge’s Gavin Rees who is set for a mouth-watering rematch with Newport’s St Joes boxer Gary Buckland.
See tomorrow’s Argus Sport and next week for more exclusive thoughts from Hearn and Cleverly.