By Ian S Palmer
Nathan Cleverly of Wales will be defending his WBA Light heavyweight Championship against Sweden’s Badou Jack this Saturday, August 26th at the T-mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The 12-round bout is on the undercard of the Mayweather vs McGregor tilt and can be seen on pay-per-view in North America and Sky Box Office in the UK. Cleverly last fought in October when he stopped Juergen Braehmer after six rounds to take the title. Jack’s last outing was a 12-round majority draw with IBF Super Middleweight Champ James DeGale in January. Cleverly is also a former WBO Light Heavyweight Champ while Jack is a former WBC Super Middleweight Titleholder.
The 30-year-old Cleverly enters the fight with a mark of 30-3 with 16 Kos. His career losses came against rival Tony Bellew in November of 2014 by 12-round split decision, to Sergey Kovalev by fourth-round KO in 2013 and a 12-round unanimous decision to Andrzej Fonfara in a barnburner in 2015. His best wins were against Tony Bellew, Tommy Karpency, Karo Muat and Robin Krasniqui. This is a quality matchup for fans and it looks like Cleverly’s taking a bit of a risk by defending his title for the first time against Jack.
However, Cleverly is used to fighting at light heavyweight and cruiserweight while jack has been toiling as a super middleweight recently. Cleverly dropped back down to light heavyweight after taking on Bellew in a rematch in the cruiserweight division. The Welshman’s a good boxer and he’ll likely use movement to make sure he doesn’t stand in front of Jack. However, he did stand toe to toe with Fonfara in 2015 in an exciting slugfest.
Cleverly needs to land crisp, hard shots and get out of the way when the challenger decides to return the fire. Jack isn’t really a slugger either, but a brawl could break out at any time. Cleverly stands just over 6-feet-1-inch tall and has a 74-inch reach. The champion turned pro in 2005 and has boxed 212 rounds since then. He’s not a huge puncher as his knockout ratio stands at 48 per cent. He has a chance to retain the title if he can utilize his boxing skills for all 12 rounds and his chin and body stand up to Jack’s power shots.
The 33-year-old Jack fights out of Las Vegas and enters the ring with a record of 21-1-2 with 12 Kos. He possesses a good jab, decent power and is a good counterpuncher. He’s not a spectacular boxer, but is a solid one. The only loss on his record came at the hands of Derek Edwards via a first-round stoppage in February of 2014. His other draw was a 10-found affair against Marco Antonio Periban in September of 2013. His best wins have been over George Groves, Lucian Bute, Anthony Dirrell and Rogelio Medina.
Jack has as habit of dropping his hands and sometimes lunging in and he’ll need to keep these traits to a minimum against Cleverly. The challenger is 6-feet-1-inch tall and has a 73-inch, so is basically the same size as Cleverly. He’s a former Olympian who has boxed 142 rounds since turning pro in 2009. Jack has average power and a solid chin as well as plenty of heart and determination. Like Cleverly, he’s not a huge puncher and his current knockout ratio stands at 50 per cent.
This is a close fight to call as it’s basically an even matchup when it comes to size, power, experience, and chins even though Cleverly’s three years younger. The winner will come down to heart and determination and they both possess plenty of those qualities so whoever decides to let his hands go the most will take this. Don’t be surprised be any outcome here, including a draw, but I think Jack has a slight edge and he should be favoured to take the title in a close tussle.