WBO Light-Heavyweight champion, NATHAN CLEVERLY will defend his title for the third time when he takes on American challenger TOMMY KARPENCY at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff tonight.
This fight is a long-awaited homecoming for the Welshman, who has not boxed in his native country since 2007 when he won an eight-round decision over Ugandan fighter Joey Vegas on the Joe Calzaghe-Mikkel Kessler undercard at the Millenium Stadium.
In his last fight, Cleverly proved his world championship calibre with a gruelling twelve round majority win over highly respected Scouser, Tony Bellew. This time however, Cleverly will take on a little known American southpaw that is only ranked eleventh by the WBO.
25-year-old Cleverly (23-0, 11 KOs) showed everyone what a complete fighter he has become with his win over the previously unbeaten Bellew last October. Some experts had wondered if the Welshman’s credentials had slipped somewhat following his less than impressive performances against Nabjib Mohammedi in December 2010, and Aleksy Kuziemski in the first defence of the title.
Personally, I believed that Bellew would be too good a boxer and too sharp a puncher for Cleverly but instead the Welshman was a revelation.
Cleverly entered the Echo Arena in Liverpool in front of thousands of locals baying for his blood. Despite going behind early in the fight and taking heavy right hands from Bellew, Cleverly eventually took control and finished with clinical flurries and combinations.
Bellew may have been the better technical boxer, but Cleverly’s punches came from everywhere and clearly hurt the Liverpudlian. Despite the opportunities to face top contenders like Chad Dawson and Bernard Hopkins, Cleverly has opted to face the largely unknown and unfancied Tommy Karpency.
There are no standout wins on Karpency’s record, typified by his sole fight of 2011, a first round KO of a fighter named Andre Hemphill. In his interviews leading up to the fight, Karpency, a qualified nurse, came across as a likeable and dilligent young man who genuinely believes that his low profile will work in his favour against Cleverly.
“The average boxing fan and boxing analysts may have written me off because I don’t have a big-time promoter, but I’m sure Nathan Cleverly hasn’t written me off,” said Karpency recently.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to fight for a world title. This is the pinnacle of the sport for me, I believe I can fight and compete and beat any light-heavyweight in the world. Any athlete who doesn’t believe that is wasting their time.”
Cleverly believes that a victory over the American will open the door for unification bouts against the likes of IBF Light-Heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud and Kazakhstanian WBA champion, Beibut Shumenov.
“Provided we come through this in a good fashion I think there would be a unification fight not too far down the line,” he said.
“Fighters like Shumenov or Cloud, I would definitely like to fight one of those guys. There is also the Chad Dawson against Bernard Hopkins fight coming up and I wouldn’t mind facing the winner of that.
“I think that fight will happen in the future but I think that would be towards the back end of 2012, but that could happen in the foreseeable future.”
Cleverly is also happy to shoulder the expectation of a nation when he defends his crown in his hometown.
” I am really looking forward to the occasion. It is a great weekend of sport with Wales playing England in the Six Nations and Cardiff City in the Carling Cup final.
“On a personal level this is a very special occasion for me and for Welsh boxing as it is my homecoming. It is a chance to bring the glory days back to Welsh boxing after a four-year lull. There has been a great response and it is a boost to know the fans are getting behind me.”
Karpency has proven before that he is a decent fighter but the reality is that he simply should not be facing Nathan Cleverly in a world title fight. The Welshman’s management could have chosen a dozen more worthy opponents for Cleverly, and the Karpency fight is a backward step. If Cleverly wanted to get a few rounds under his belt, this should have been a non-title bout, nothing more.
Cleverly is simply a much better boxer, puncher and athlete than Karpency, so this should be a mismatch right from the get-go. I personally think that Cleverly will want to put on a show for his fans, so I expect it to last at least six rounds. Karpency has come across as a likeable, decent guy but he will be outgunned tonight in Cardiff.