Nathan Cleverly

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Nathan Cleverly
Nathan Cleverly.jpg
Cleverly in 2007
Rated at
Height 6 ft 1 12 in (187 cm)
Reach 74 in (188 cm)
Nationality British
Born (1987-02-17) 17 February 1987 (age 30)
Caerphilly, Wales
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 33
Wins 30
Wins by KO 16
Losses 3

Nathan Cleverly (born 17 February 1987) is a British professional boxer from Caerphilly, Wales. He is a two-time light-heavyweight world champion, having held the WBA (Regular) title since 2016, and previously the WBO title from 2011 to 2013. Additionally he has held multiple regional light-heavyweight championships, including the Commonwealth title from 2008 to 2010; the British title from 2009 to 2011; and the European title in 2010. Clevely graduated with a BSc in mathematics from Cardiff University in 2010.[1] As of May 2017, he is ranked as the fourth best Light-heavyweight by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and eighth by The Ring magazine and BoxRec.

Professional career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Cleverly made his professional debut in July 2005 with a four-round victory over journeyman Ernie Smith at the Meadowbank Sports Center in Edinburgh and within a year had compiled a winning ledger of 6–0. His first fight of substance however was in October 2006 when he met Liverpool's Tony Quigley at the MEN Arena in Manchester. The fight which was on the undercard to the match up between Joe Calzaghe and Sakio Bika ended in a 5th round stoppage for Cleverly and handed Quigley his first pro defeat.

The next big test for the young prospect took place at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff just over a year later in September 2007 when Cleverly met tough Ugandan Joey Vegas. Cleverly at that time boasted a record of 10–0 and Vegas 10–1. The fight ended with a gruelling points win over 8 rounds for the Welshman in what was his toughest fight to date. Speaking about the result to the BBC and referring to the sparring he received in the Enzo Calzaghe gym, Cleverly said "I'm still young and won't be hitting my peak for about eight years, but think how good the wars I'm having in the gym now are doing me for the future ... I want to keep on progressing, to go for the British title, then maybe a world crown in a couple of years."[2]

Cleverly had made a point of fighting on the undercards of his stablemate Joe Calzaghe with the Vegas fight being one of the prelims to Calzaghe's World title unification fight against Mikkel Kessler. The next stop however was the real Vegas, Las Vegas to support Calzaghe's attempt to win The Ring's Light heavyweight belt against American fighter Bernard Hopkins. Cleverly, fighting outside the UK for the first time as a pro also faced American opposition and beat Antonio Baker over 8 rounds.[3]

In September 2008, the young boxer chose to leave Enzo Calzaghe's Newbridge boxing club where he had trained throughout his career and begin training at his father's gym in South Wales. Speaking about his decision to leave the gym Cleverly said "I have been trained by Enzo Calzaghe for six years since my youth days so leaving him has been one of the hardest decision I've ever had to make ... Enzo is largely responsible for where I am in my career and I cannot thank him enough for what he has done for me." Cleverly had been concerned following the legal wranglings between promoter Frank Warren and his former stablemate Joe Calzaghe and added "I cannot take any chances with my career ... I take boxing very seriously and want to be world champion. Hopefully Frank can sort that out for me."[4]

Commonwealth champion[edit]

"I have worked hard for this but this is just the start for me – I want to rule the world"

— Nathan Cleverly, speaking after winning the commonwealth title

In October 2008, Cleverly landed a shot at the vacant Commonwealth light heavyweight title topping the bill for the first time in his career at the Everton Park Sports Centre in Liverpool. His opponent was the experienced former British champion Tony Oakey who he beat on points over 12 rounds. Speaking after picking up his first belt Cleverly said "What a memorable night for me, winning a title is something I have dreamed of since I was a kid ... I have worked hard for this but this is just the start for me – I want to rule the world."[5]

Cleverly defended his title just two months later in December against Kenyan Douglas Otieno. The African fighter, who came into the contest with a record of 18–1, was no match for the Welshman and was stopped in the 4th round.[6] In February 2009 he defended for the second time against another Kenyan, Samson Onyang winning via knockout in the 1st round.[7] On 22 May 2009 he scored a second round stoppage over Billy Boyle for his third defence of the title.[8]

British champion[edit]

The victory over Boyle set Cleverly up for a shot at the vacant British title on 18 July 2009 against English champion Danny McIntosh. Fighting at the York Hall Cleverly knocked McIntosh down on four occasions before the referee stepped in to stop the fight in the 7th round ensuring that Cleverly could add the Lonsdale Belt to his Commonwealth.[9] Following the victory Cleverly laid claim to being the best light heavyweight in Britain, despite the fact that fellow Brit Clinton Woods was soon to be travelling to Florida in a challenge for the vacant IBF World title against Tavoris Cloud. Cleverly saying that whenever the fight between himself and Woods could be made, he would be ready for it.[10] Former champion Woods would go on to lose the fight and promptly announced his retirement from boxing. On 25 September 2009 Cleverly was pipped to the prestigious Boxing Writers Club young boxer of the year award by only one vote losing out to British welterweight champion Kell Brook in what was the closest vote in the history of the award.[11]

On 9 October 2009 Cleverly defended both belts for the very first time against former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Courtney Fry. The fight, at the York Hall, resulted in an 8th round stoppage for Cleverly against a man who had been a successful amateur.[12] Even more crucial for the Welshman was the news that prior to the fight he had been nominated to fight for the European title and that any loss to Fry would have scuppered those plans.[13]

European champion[edit]

"As well as crunching numbers, I've had to fight for the British, Commonwealth and European titles as well, and spend most evenings hitting the heavy bag and doing numerous press ups and sit ups"

— Nathan Cleverly, on studying for a Maths degree whilst being a professional boxer

On 13 February 2010 Cleverly took on Antonio Brancalion at Wembley Arena in a bid to gain the vacant European light-heavyweight title. The fight was won in the fifth round, the victory coming by way of knock out after two earlier knock downs in the previous round. In winning he became only the seventh Welshman to hold the British, Commonwealth and European titles.[14] In addition to winning titles, Cleverly had during the same time period been studying for a Maths degree at Cardiff University eventually gaining a 2:2 degree. Speaking after securing his degree in May 2010 he claimed the studying and the boxing combined had taken its toll saying "All the other students in my year have been able to concentrate full-time on getting their degrees ... But as well as crunching numbers, I've had to fight for the British, Commonwealth and European titles as well, and spend most evenings hitting the heavy bag and doing numerous press ups and sit ups."[15]

WBO light heavyweight champion[edit]

Cleverly at the Cardiff City Stadium in Wales in August 2010.

On 18 September 2010 Cleverly faced the unbeaten Karo Murat at the LG Arena in Birmingham in an eliminator for the WBO light heavyweight title. Cleverly moved one step closer to a match up with reigning champion Jürgen Brähmer with a ninth-round TKO to win the fight which was one of the main events on Frank Warren's 'Magnificent Seven' event. Murat, a former European champion at super middleweight, struggled to match the Welshman after an explosive start and after being rocked in the 9th, the referee decided to stop the fight prior to the commencement of the 10th.[16] Cleverly earned the interim version of the belt on 11 December 2010 in an unimpressive contest with the Frenchman Nadjib Mohammedi at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.[17] Winning 115–112, 116–111 and 115–113 on the scorecards despite also having a point deducted Cleverly described his opponent as "very awkward" and said "he was making me miss and dragging me in but this is the way it goes sometimes."[17] Cleverly had fought for the interim title as the full champion Jürgen Brähmer was in the midst of an appeal against a 16-month jail sentence for assault and insulting behaviour.[17] An appeal heard in Germany on 13 December 2010 would, if Brähmer had been unsuccessful and sent to prison, have resulted in the belt being vacated and Cleverly being upgraded to the full champion status.[17] Proceedings however didn't result in the champion being sent to prison and a fight with Brähmer was scheduled for 21 May 2011. Speaking of the match up Cleverly said that he was glad that it was going to happen saying "He's the champion and the only way I would consider myself a true champion is if I took the belt from him, rather than picking up the vacant title."[18] Prior to the fight at The O2 Arena in London, Brähmer pulled out citing an eye injury received in training which had failed to heal properly. The pullout resulted in the loss of the main event for the show and speculation that Cleverly would be awarded the full WBO title by default.[19] Brähmer's replacement was found in undefeated British fighter Tony Bellew, then the Commonwealth champion. Bellew, however, failed to make the weight and a second replacement was found in Polish veteran Aleksy Kuziemski, a man ranked at number 11 in the world by the WBO.[20] Despite the disruption, Cleverly, who had been awarded the full title following Brähmers pullout, made a successful first defence to retain the title. The fight ended in the fourth round after a cut to the Kuziemski was deemed bad enough for the referee to stop the fight.[20] Speaking of his achievement Cleverly said "I felt it was my destiny tonight ... Ever since I first put the gloves on when I was 11 this was the night I've been dreaming of ... Now I'll say Nathan Cleverly is the light-heavyweight champion of the world".[20]

Title defences[edit]

Cleverly made his first defence of his WBO title on 15 October 2011 with a hard fought majority points decision against Tony Bellew in Liverpool.[21] The fight, at the Echo Arena, was considered to be one of Cleverly's "hardest days in the office" with one judge scoring the contest a draw.[21] The fight had an ill-tempered build up with the two clashing during the weigh in resulting in a hostile reception for the champion against the home challenger.[21]

Cleverly made his second defence of his WBO title returning to Wales for the first time since winning his WBO title on 25 February 2012 with a unanimous points decision against Tommy Karpency.[22]

Cleverly made his third defence of his WBO title, his first in the USA, with an 8th round stoppage against American Shawn Hawk in Los Angeles on 10 November 2012.

On 20 April 2013 Cleverly made his fourth defence against Robin Krasniqi winning by unanimous decision at the Wembley Arena.

He lost his fifth attempt at defence of the title against Russian Sergey Kovalev on 17 August 2013 at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. The fight was stopped 29 seconds into the 4th round in Kovalev's favour. Cleverly considered retiring after the bout, but decided not to.[23]

Move up to cruiserweight[edit]

Cleverly made his Cruiserweight debut on 17 May 2014, defeating Shawn Corbin by second-round technical knockout to win the vacant WBA Inter-Continental Cruiserweight title.[24] Cleverly successfully defended the title against Alejandro Emilio Valori on 12 July 2014 via fourth-round technical knockout.[25]

Cleverly vs. Bellew II[edit]

On 22 November 2014 Cleverly and Tony Bellew had their rematch, this time they were both fighting as Cruiserweights. The fight took place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. This was also a WBO Cruiserweight Title Eliminator. The bout went 12 rounds as Bellew won via split decision (115-113, 116-112 & 114-115).

Return to light heavyweight[edit]

Cleverly moved back to light heavyweight following the loss to Bellew. His first fight back at his original weight was against Tomas Man (13-8, 8KOs) on 30 May 2015. Cleverly won via 1st-round KO.[26]

Cleverly vs. Fonfara[edit]

On 16 October 2015 Cleverly fought Polish former world title challenger Andrzej Fonfara (27-3, 16 KOs) at UIC Pavilion in Chicago for the WBC International Light Heavyweight title. Fonfara outlasted Cleverly over 12 entertaining rounds to claim a victory by unanimous decision in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card. The judges scored it 115-113, 116-112, 116-112 for Fonfara. Combined, Cleverly and Fonfara set CompuBox records for the most combined punches thrown and landed in a light heavyweight fight, throwing 2,524 punches and landing 936, both CompuBox records. Fonfara (28-3, 16 KOs) also set individual records for a light heavyweight by landing 474 punches and attempting 1,413. Despite bleeding from a grotesquely swollen nose over the second half of the fight, Cleverly never stopped coming forward.[27]

Cleverly vs. Brähmer[edit]

On 22 July 2016 it was announced on Sky Sports that Cleverly would finally meet his long-standing rival Juergen Braehmer (48-2, 35 KOs) for the WBA 'Regular' light-heavyweight title on 1 October at the Jahnsportforum in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany. They were initially meant to meet in 2011 at the O2, in London, and another fight was mooted in 2015, only for Cleverly to decide to fight in America against Fonfara. This was Braehmer's seventh defence of his title that he had held since 2013.[28] On the night, Cleverly became a two-time world champion at light heavyweight, after Braehmer retired on his stool with an injured elbow at the end of the 6th round, which his promoter later confirmed was dislocated. The fight itself was back and forth action, with Braehmer winning most due to landing the more effective shots, particularly the left hook to the head. At the time of the stoppage, Braehmer was ahead 58-56 three times on the scorecards.[29][30][31] There was a rematch clause in the contract, which Braehmer said he would be taking. A day after the fight, there was already dispute between both camps as to where the rematch would be held, with promoter Eddie Hearn claiming Cleverly should have the home advantage.[32][33][34]

Professional boxing record[edit]

Professional record summary
33 fights 30 wins 3 losses
By knockout 16 1
By decision 14 2
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
33 Win 30–3 Germany Jürgen Brähmer RTD 6 (12), 3:00 1 Oct 2016 Germany Jahnsportforum, Neubrandenburg, Germany Won WBA (Regular) light-heavyweight title
32 Loss 29–3 Poland Andrzej Fonfara UD 12 16 Oct 2015 United States UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois, US For WBC International light-heavyweight title
31 Win 29–2 Czech Republic Tomas Man KO 1 (8), 0:24 30 May 2015 United Kingdom The O2 Arena, London, England
30 Loss 28–2 United Kingdom Tony Bellew SD 12 22 Nov 2014 United Kingdom Echo Arena, Liverpool, England
29 Win 28–1 Argentina Alejandro Emilio Valori TKO 4 (12), 1:16 12 Jul 2014 United Kingdom Echo Arena, Liverpool, England Retained WBA Inter-Continental cruiserweight title
28 Win 27–1 Trinidad and Tobago Shawn Corbin TKO 2 (12), 2:19 17 May 2014 United Kingdom Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales Won vacant WBA Inter-Continental cruiserweight title
27 Loss 26–1 Russia Sergey Kovalev TKO 4 (12), 0:29 17 Aug 2013 United Kingdom Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales Lost WBO light-heavyweight title
26 Win 26–0 Germany Robin Krasniqi UD 12 20 Apr 2013 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England Retained WBO light-heavyweight title
25 Win 25–0 United States Shawn Hawk TKO 8 (12), 1:53 10 Nov 2012 United States Staples Center, Los Angeles, California, US Retained WBO light-heavyweight title
24 Win 24–0 United States Tommy Karpency UD 12 25 Feb 2012 United Kingdom Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales Retained WBO light-heavyweight title
23 Win 23–0 United Kingdom Tony Bellew MD 12 15 Oct 2011 United Kingdom Echo Arena, Liverpool, England Retained WBO light-heavyweight title
22 Win 22–0 Poland Aleksy Kuziemski TKO 4 (12), 1:27 21 May 2011 United Kingdom The O2 Arena, London, England Retained WBO light-heavyweight title
21 Win 21–0 France Nadjib Mohammedi UD 12 11 Dec 2010 United Kingdom Echo Arena, Liverpool, England Won vacant WBO interim light-heavyweight title
20 Win 20–0 Germany Karo Murat RTD 9 (12), 3:00 18 Sep 2010 United Kingdom LG Arena, Birmingham, England
19 Win 19–0 Italy Antonio Brancalion TKO 5 (12), 1:15 13 Feb 2010 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England Won vacant European light-heavyweight title
18 Win 18–0 United Kingdom Courtney Fry TKO 8 (12), 2:51 9 Oct 2009 United Kingdom York Hall, London, England Retained British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles
17 Win 17–0 United Kingdom Danny McIntosh TKO 7 (12), 1:30 18 Jul 2009 United Kingdom York Hall, London, England Retained Commonwealth light-heavyweight title;
Won vacant British light-heavyweight title
16 Win 16–0 United Kingdom Billy Boyle TKO 2 (12), 2:22 22 May 2009 United Kingdom York Hall, London, England Retained Commonwealth light-heavyweight title
15 Win 15–0 Kenya Samson Onyango TKO 1 (12), 2:15 13 Feb 2009 United Kingdom Oasis Leisure Centre, Swindon, England Retained Commonwealth light-heavyweight Title
14 Win 14–0 Kenya Douglas Otieno Okola TKO 4 (12), 2:39 12 Dec 2008 United Kingdom Kingsway Leisure Centre, Widnes, England Retained Commonwealth light-heavyweight title
13 Win 13–0 United Kingdom Tony Oakey UD 12 10 Oct 2008 United Kingdom Everton Park Sports Centre, Liverpool, England Won vacant Commonwealth light-heavyweight title
12 Win 12–0 United States Antonio Baker UD 8 19 Apr 2008 United States Thomas & Mack Center, Paradise, Nevada, US
11 Win 11–0 Uganda Joey Vegas PTS 8 3 Nov 2007 United Kingdom Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales
10 Win 10–0 Ghana Ayitey Powers KO 6 (8), 2:43 21 Jul 2007 United Kingdom International Arena, Cardiff, Wales
9 Win 9–0 United Kingdom Nick Okoth PTS 8 7 Apr 2007 United Kingdom Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales
8 Win 8–0 Armenia Varuzhan Davtyan PTS 4 18 Nov 2006 United Kingdom Newport Centre, Newport, Wales
7 Win 7–0 United Kingdom Tony Quigley TKO 5 (6), 0:57 14 Oct 2006 United Kingdom MEN Arena, Manchester, England
6 Win 6–0 United Kingdom Mark Phillips PTS 4 8 Jul 2006 United Kingdom Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales
5 Win 5–0 United Kingdom Brendan Halford PTS 4 1 Jun 2006 United Kingdom Metrodome, Barnsley, England
4 Win 4–0 United Kingdom Jon Foster PTS 4 4 Mar 2006 United Kingdom MEN Arena, Manchester, England
3 Win 3–0 United Kingdom Lance Hall TKO 3 (4), 2:27 4 Dec 2005 United Kingdom Oakengates Theatre, Telford, England
2 Win 2–0 United Kingdom Darren Gethin PTS 4 10 Sep 2005 United Kingdom International Arena, Cardiff, Wales
1 Win 1–0 United Kingdom Ernie Smith PTS 4 23 Jul 2005 United Kingdom Meadowbank Sports Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland Professional debut


  1. ^ "Boxing champ Nathan Cleverly swaps gloves for gown". BBC News. 14 July 2010. 
  2. ^ Davies, Sean (4 November 2007). "I'm on Calzaghe trail – Cleverly". BBC Sport. 
  3. ^ Wales Online | A winner like Joe
  4. ^ "Cleverly leaves Calzaghe stable". BBC Sport. 5 September 2008. 
  5. ^ "Cleverly wins Commonwealth crown". BBC Sport. 10 October 2008. 
  6. ^ BBC Sport | Cleverly shines in first defence
  7. ^ "Double-quick victory for Cleverly". BBC Sport. 13 February 2009. 
  8. ^ "Easy title defence for Cleverly". BBC Sport. 22 May 2009. 
  9. ^ "Cleverly stops McIntosh for title". BBC Sport. 18 July 2009. 
  10. ^ "Cleverly has Woods in his sights". BBC Sport. 17 August 2009. 
  11. ^ "Cleverly beaten to award by Brook". BBC Sport. 25 September 2009. 
  12. ^ "Cleverly sees off Fry challenge". BBC Sport. 9 October 2009. 
  13. ^ "Cleverly targeting European belt". BBC Sport. 4 October 2009. 
  14. ^ "European title win for Welshman Nathan Cleverly". BBC Sport. 13 February 2010. 
  15. ^ "Boxer Cleverly earns maths degree". BBC News. 25 June 2010. 
  16. ^ Hassan, Nabil (18 September 2010). "Impressive Welshman Nathan Cleverly defeats Karo Murat". BBC Sport. 
  17. ^ a b c d "Nathan Cleverly edges to points victory over Mohammedi". BBC Sport. 11 December 2010. 
  18. ^ "Nathan Cleverly world title shot with Braehmer set". BBC Sport. 17 March 2011. 
  19. ^ "Cleverly title fight called off". BBC Sport. 18 May 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c "Cleverly records first title win". BBC Sport. 21 May 2011. 
  21. ^ a b c BBC Sport | Cleverly beats bellew to retain WBO title
  22. ^ BBC Sport | Nathan Cleverly holds on to world crown against Tommy Karpency
  23. ^ "Nathan Cleverly to box on and wants to regain world title". Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  24. ^ "Nathan Cleverly wins cruiserweight debut against Shawn Corbin". Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  25. ^ "cleverly wins". boxrec. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  26. ^ "BoxRec – Nathan Cleverly v Tomas Man". Retrieved 2016-05-07. 
  27. ^ "Fonfara outslugs Cleverly in 12-round thriller". Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  28. ^ "Cleverly and Braehmer to finally meet after 5 year wait on october 1st". Sky Sports. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2016. 
  29. ^ "Nathan Cleverly beats Juergen Braehmer to win WBA light-heavyweight title". BBC Sport. 2016-10-01. Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  30. ^ "Nathan Cleverly wins world title after Juergen Braehmer withdraws injured". Sky Sports. 2 October 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2016. 
  31. ^ "Braehmer was ahead of Cleverly on scorecards - Boxing News". 2016-10-02. Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  32. ^ "Photos: Nathan Cleverly Wins WBA Gold, Braehmer Badly Injured - Boxing News". Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  33. ^ "Hearn confirms Cleverly, Braehmer rematch". Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  34. ^ "Nathan Cleverly and Juergen Braehmer's promoters disagree over rematch location". Sky Sports. 2 October 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2016. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Regional boxing titles
Title last held by
Dean Francis
Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion
10 October 2008 – 12 March 2010
Title next held by
Tony Bellew
British light-heavyweight champion
18 July 2009 – 15 January 2011
Title last held by
Jürgen Brähmer
European light-heavyweight champion
13 February 2010 – September 2010
Title next held by
Danny McIntosh
Title last held by
Iago Kiladze
WBA Inter-Continental cruiserweight champion
17 May 2014 – November 2014
Title next held by
Mateusz Masternak
World boxing titles
Title last held by
Jürgen Brähmer
WBO light-heavyweight champion
Interim title

11 December 2010 – 19 May 2011
Preceded by
Jürgen Brähmer
WBO light-heavyweight champion
19 May 2011 – 17 August 2013
Succeeded by
Sergey Kovalev
Preceded by
Jürgen Brähmer
WBA light-heavyweight champion
Regular title

1 October 2016 – present