Former WBC super middleweight champion Badou Jack (21-1-2, 12 KOs) will be back inside the ring soon this month in challenging WBA World cruiserweight champion Nathan Cleverly (30-3, 16 KOs) on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor card on August on Showtime PPV at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The World Boxing Association appears to have given Cleverly permission to steer around #1 WBA mandatory challenger Dmitry Bivol (11-0, 9 KOs). The WBA ordered Cleverly, 31, to defend his title against the 26-year-old Bivol, who is the interim WBA champion. The WBA reportedly gave Cleverly 30 days to start negotiations with Bivol. But with Cleverly now facing Badou Jack, the WBA appears to be giving him a chance to get one title defense in between he has to fight Bivol.
The chances are high that the responsibility to defend the WBA title against Bivol will soon wrest on Badou Jack’s shoulders if he gets past Nathan. I expect that to happen. Cleverly is going to have major headaches when he gets inside the ring with Badou on August 26.
Bivol is going to be a big problem for Badou. That’s a tough fight for him because the Russian fighter is a very good inside fighter, and it might be too much for Badou to deal with in what would be just his second fight at 175 if he gets past Cleverly. Badou isn’t the biggest puncher in the world, and he’s going to be up against it when he gets inside the ring with Bivol. I hope that Badou doesn’t try dodging Bivol for years and years if the WBA allows him to do that. I can’t imagine they would, but they let Cleverly steer around him to take the Badou fight. I guess if the WBA allowed Cleverly to bypass Bivol, they might let Badou avoid him too. It would be sad if that happens.
“This is a fight I have wanted ever since Badou Jack moved to light heavyweight and I’m delighted to fight in Vegas on an event like this,” said Cleverly. “I’ve trained long and hard for this fight and I’m ready to be let off the leash. This is the biggest fight of my career so far and I’m going to do a number on Badou Jack on August 26.”
I kind doubt that Cleverly will do a number on Badou. Cleverly is pretty limited with his power. Heck, the only reason Cleverly is the WBA world champion at 175 is because the previous champion Juergen Braehmer suffered an elbow injury in his fight against Cleverly last October. Cleverly was going to lose that fight and he was behind on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage.
The judges had Braehmer up 58-56 x 3. I had Braehmer winning as well. He was too powerful for Cleverly, and he was winning rounds landing 4 or 5 head-snapping shots. Cleverly was out-landing Braehmer by a wide margin, but he had nothing on his feather-fisted punches. If an old timer like the 38-year-old Braehmer could get the better of Cleverly, then what do you think a talent like Jack is going to do to him on August 26? It’s going to be embarrassing, let me tell you. I just hope the corner for Cleverly has a towel ready to toss into the ring to save him from soaking up too much needless punishment. Cleverly has lost 2 out of his last 4 fights. How in the heck is he even a world champion?
Cleverly went into the Braehmer fight having lost 2 out of his last 3 fights. I thought that was mind boggling that Cleverly was given a world title shot against Braehmer with that many losses in his last 3 fights. It’s like an NFL going to the Super Bowl after posting a 1-15 record during the season. Only boxing do you see things like that where a fighter that is losing repeatedly gets a title shot. I’m just saying. Cleverly’s losses in the last 3 years came against Tony Bellew and Andrzej Fonfara. I don’t care that those are good fighters. Nathan Cleverly still lost to them, and he didn’t deserve to be fighting for a world title against Braehmer in my view.
Badou recently was held to a 12 round draw in his unification fight against IBF super middleweight champion on January 14. It was a fight that could have gone either way. I thought Badou had done enough to rate a win against DeGale, but he started too late in putting the heat on him. If Badou had fought like he had a purpose in the first 6 rounds, he would have easily won the fight. He showed DeGale too much respect and resulted in the fight being scored as a draw. This the second fight in a row where the fight was scored as a draw. Jack’s fight against Lucian Bute last year in April was also scored as a draw. The Washington DC Athletic Commission overturned the results of the fight after Bute tested positive for the banned drug ‘Ostarine.’ It’s unclear whether the drug helped Bute’s performance or not. There’s no way of knowing. But what Bute showed in that fight is Jack has problems against fighters that throw a lot of punches.
Cleverly is obviously going to study the Jack-Bute fight and he’ll likely try and beat Jack by using his high volume punching attack to try and beat him. Jack is too economical with his punches, and he struggles when his opposition go on the attack and let their hands go. George Groves gave Jack problems in their fight on September 12, 2015. Jack started out strong in the first 6 rounds in knocking Groves down and building up a lead. Groves came on in the later part of the fight to make it close. If Groves had let his hands go from the get go, he probably would have won the fight.
”I’m getting ready to take that belt, and win a title in my second weight class,” said Jack. ”The biggest difference between past training camps and preparing for this fight is the fact that I was training to get the weight down, now I’m training to build muscle and perfect my boxing strategy. This will be a tough fight, but I don’t see any issues getting through it. I feel confident and fans can expect a win by knockout or decision. He’s not leaving with that belt. It’s staying right here in Las Vegas.”
Yeah, I think it’s pretty much a given that Jack is going to win this fight against Cleverly. The only question is in what manner he will win. I think Badou is a good fighter. I don’t rate him as highly as guys like Andre Ward, Bivol, Artur Beterbiev, Adonis Stevenson, Eleider Alvarez or Oleksandr Gvozdyk. I see those guys better than Jack. It’s possible that now that Jack is moving up to 175, he’ll have more power and will be a better fighter than he was before at 168. We’ll have to see.
If Jack has looked limited at 168 due him having to drain down in weight, then he might be explosive at 175. That would be bad news for Cleverly if Jack is a better fighter a super middleweight, because it means he’ll get knocked out like he did when he fought Sergey Kovalev in September 2013. Kovalev stopped Cleverly in the 4th round.