We are at that stage in fight week when the glare of the spot-light is beginning to become tiresome and eyes look weary. There are only so many interviews you can give on the same subject before your patience wears thin.
1 more press-conference remains and the weigh-in before the fists do the talking – all pre-talk is then rendered redundant.
Tony Bellew has a perception of being a passionate man; one who wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t afraid to speak his mind – be it eloquently or vitriolic. But this week The Bomber appears as relaxed as a man in the departure lounge heading on holiday.
My fear for the 31 yr old was that he would get consumed by his own emotions and exhaust himself before his hands were wrapped.
So far, this hasn’t happened – but there is still time.
Nathan Cleverly appears even more relaxed displaying an air of assertion that it’s not if he will win; but when.
The concern for Cleverly is the mental effect the crushing stoppage to Sergey Kovalev has had on him, with the Welshman openly admitting that he did consider retirement in the aftermath. He strikes me as a deep thinker and I wonder if he is perhaps still to this day suffering in silence.
Cleverly turned pro as a 147lb Welterweight and has grown physically over the years in to a 200lb Cruiserweight. That’s a whopping 53lb increase with no sign of any visceral fat – the Welshman’s shoulders and back absorbing much of the weight.
“A lot of people have him as the favourite because he’s the naturally bigger guy,” said Cleverly. “He is heavy handed, apparently, so they think that is too much of a jump for me and it is a big jump. I’m up against it but I am confident. I know my own body, I know what I can do. Mentally and physically, I know my limits and I know that I can beat this guy at Cruiserweight. I feel comfortable, strong, sharp and fit. I’ll beat this guy.
“I’ve got too many strengths and I’ll bring everything I’ve learned from the lighter divisions up to Cruiserweight. I’ll bring the speed, I’ll bring the stamina. He can bring his power – I’ve already tested it and I’ve taken it with ease. It will be no different at Cruiserweight.”
Bellew was a 200lb Heavyweight amateur and to the surprise of many he turned pro as a 175lb Light-Heavyweight. His struggles with the Light-Heavy limit have been well documented and The Bomber’s punch-power has increased significantly.
With no-love- lost between them, The Bomber’s hatred for his adversary runs as deep as the River Mersey.
Bellew stuck a bandage on a poster of Cleverly’s head Tuesday at his open workout – writing “Fraud” across it.
“He says one thing and then does another so I’m just letting it be known. Instead of the bandana saying what it usually says I think it’s better saying something suitable from now on. That’s the most truthful word I can use about him. Bellew said to Skysports.
“One minute he’s retiring, one minute he’s the best athlete in the world, one minute he can’t be knocked out and in the next phrase he says: ‘If he hits me, he is the stronger man and can knock me out and someone’s got to go.’
“He contradicts himself constantly so he’s just a strange cat to be real and that’s the fact of the matter”
So how will the fight pan out?
If there is to be a KO it will come from Bellew – but underestimate Cleverly’s chin at your peril – he can take a punch and the country will be glued to the screen when he takes his first. I expect Bellew to be in the shape of his life; Dave Coldwell formerly of Team Hayemaker will have The Bomber in peak condition. Cleverly is the better natural athlete and you can bet your house on him being at optimum level for Saturday.
Cleverly I favour should the fight go beyond the half-way stage. With his Calzaghe trained DNA, you can guarantee endurance and a high volume of punches being thrown. He is no cotton-wool puncher himself and should Bellew tire down the stretch, a stoppage from The Welshman won’t be a huge shock.
A genuine 50-50 match with the caveat of a World Title shot for the victor.
Could this be the makeover the division perceived as the ugly sister in America needs to finally get to the prom?