By Chris Cella
Tomorrow night undefeated light heavyweight Nathan Cleverly (24-0, 11 KO) will put his title on the line as he goes to battle with Shawn “The Sioux Warrior” Hawk (23-2-1, 17 KO) for the WBO light heavyweight championship of the world at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, though defending his title may not the be the most prominent thing on the young fighter’s mind.
This past week there has been much talk about Oscar De La Hoya’s promotional empire Golden Boy promoting the undefeated light heavyweight in America, and ultimately landing him a shot against former undisputed middleweight champion of the world Bernard Hopkins.
De La Hoya told BBC Wales’ Back Page radio show, “Nathan Cleverly is a guy anyone would want to promote. He has great potential. And we feel this Saturday is crucial for his career here in America and I’m anxious to see what happens.”
Through his 24-fight career, Cleverly has only fought once before in the States, and hasn’t had any of his fights televised here, so tomorrow night will really be his coming out party to USA boxing.
It is imperative for the young fighter to not get caught up with everything going on outside of the ring and lose focus of the boxer across the ring from him.
Hawk is a heavy-handed power puncher coming off a loss for the WBO NABO light heavyweight title this past June, and is eager to have the chance to fight for a second title.
“Nathan needs to make a splash inside the ring,” said De La Hoya. “If the fans love him, in boxing things can change for you over night and this is his chance. We know he has the tools. He is a strong and fast boxer and puncher but must make sure he blocks everything out and focuses on the fight.”
Cleverly is not known for his power or ability to finish off his opponents, so he needs to be cautious about pushing too hard to give the fans an impressive performance. It is easy for young fighters to get caught up feeling that they have to put on fireworks. But Cleverly has shown his poise and patience in the squared circle, and knows the impact a win tomorrow night will have on shaping the next stage of his career.
De La Hoya has added that if things go well for Cleverly tomorrow night against Hawk, it is feasible that the undefeated fighter can meet Hopkins in the ring in the near future.
“A lot of fighters in the United States are now realizing they should go overseas and challenge the best,” said De La Hoya. “What is very possible is Bernard Hopkins going to Britain to box Nathan.”
Nathan Cleverly has a huge shot to change the course of his boxing career in one night, but needs to stay focused on the task at hand tomorrow night when he battles Shawn Hawk.
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