Nathan Cleverly and James DeGale have been preparing for their May 21st O2 Arena fights by sparring each other this week and by all accounts the sessions have been ‘feisty’.
Welshman Cleverly 24, who will challenge Germany’s Jurgen Braehmer for the WBO light-heavyweight title, traveled to Essex to go dozens of rounds with DeGale, who will be defending his British super-middleweight title against rival Commonwealth strap holder George Groves on the bill.
“It has been excellent preparation, James DeGale is fighting on May 21 and is a southpaw like my opponent so it made sense to take that sparring. said Cleverly.
“It has got a bit feisty, but It is important to have that element of competitiveness in sparring. Sometimes we mix it up between nice movement and then let a few big shots go. It is important to adapt and take those big shots.
“We get on well and we have great respect for each other, but when we are in the gym and sparring we get down to business.
“We were looking for a great southpaw to spar and the best option was James DeGale. He is preparing for his own massive fight so it made sense.”
Cleverly 24, is unbeaten in 21 professional fights, but is taking a big step up in class against the experienced Brahmer who has never been stopped in 38 fights. His only two defeats came against Mario Veit in 2006 a result he later would reverse with a fourth round KO. Brahmer’s other loss was on points again, when he challenged Argentinian Hugo Hernan Garay in 2008 for the WBA world title. Brahmer defeated Ricky Hatton and Carl Froch in the amateur ranks and is top class.
The 32 year old proud champion will be the rightly so the toughest opponent Cleverly has ever faced has he puts his unbeaten record of 21-0 and his boxing future boxing star predictions to the test.
But Cleverly who has won British, Commonwealth and European titles on his way to this fight is under no illusions about Brahmer’s threat to his world title dream and is fully aware of the challenge he faces.
“Jurgen Brahmer is a top-class fighter, a massive puncher, with 38 fights and 36 wins,” Cleverly said. “He has wins over Ricky Hatton and Carl Froch as an amateur so he is top class. He has a great pedigree. I am up against it but am thriving on the challenge.
“This is probably the most important night and hardest fight of my life. It is a 50-50 fight but I fancy the job.” added Cleverly.
DeGale who also feels that the hard sparring with world title challenger Cleverly is just what he needs in preparations for his British title defence and toughest test to date against the unbeaten Groves.
“Its just what I need, hard competitive sparring and it isn’t just a 50% Nathan Cleverly. Its a fully focused fully fit ready to win a world title Nathan Cleverly, so its hard but good and I enjoyed it. said DeGale.
“He’s a world class fighter so you have to be switched on constantly, you cant get no better sparring than that, I appreciate him coming down and doing it. DeGale added.