12:22pm Tuesday 1st July 2014
NATHAN Cleverly’s bid to become a two-weight world champion has been boosted by support from Wales’ best-ever, Joe Calzaghe.
The Newbridge puncher was undefeated in a stellar career and while he was not an official two-weight world champion, Calzaghe was the king of the super middleweight division for 11-years and won the linear light-heavy crown against Bernard Hopkins.
Calzaghe was recently inducted into boxing’s Hall of Fame and the efforts of his former protégé Cleverly, who has already been a light heavyweight world champion, has impressed Joe.
Cruiserweight Cleverly, 27, faces Argentina's Alejandro Emilio Valori at Liverpool's Echo Arena on July 12 on the same bill as Tony Bellew.
And Cleverly is on the right track to reach world level as a cruiser, according to his mentor who believes he’ll beat Bellew for the second time with the duo set to face-off this Autumn.
Cleverly overcame Bellew on points when the two last met and Calzaghe expects the same outcome now the pair are boxing in the new weight division.
"Bellew can punch, he's a strong fighter and he's got anger towards Nathan," said Calzaghe who retired undefeated in 2009 after a 46-fight career.
"I've known Nathan since he was a young boy. Nathan has the class, the ability, the heart, the speed and it's all in how he fights,” he said.
"He can make it as easy or as hard as he wants to make it - Nathan can do a number on this guy.
"I think the cruiserweight division is adding to his punching power along with his speed - he hasn't lost any of his speed."
Cleverly moved up to 200lb after losing to Sergey Kovalev in four rounds and surrendered his WBO light-heavyweight title in 2013. Bellew followed him into the weight division four months later after he was beaten by Canada's Adonis Stevenson in Quebec City.
Calzaghe’s encouragement is in contrast to his father and former trainer Enzo, who has expressed doubts about Cleverly moving up a division.
"I don't know why he didn't give himself another chance at light-heavyweight to fulfil his potential, because he can get back to that higher level," Calzaghe told BBC Sport earlier this year. "There's no problem, he can be at the top level again.
"If he was with me and asked if he should turn cruiserweight I would probably have said no. How many people has he knocked out as a light-heavyweight - two? He probably hasn't got the killer punch.
"Bear in mind most cruiserweights are coming down from heavyweight," Calzaghe said. "So he'll be competing with a guy probably who is a heavyweight originally - so how will he cope with these heavyweights?
"On the fight night they'll probably be 15 stone and a half, even 16 stones. It's a lot to ask."
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