Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew sit down with Johnny Nelson ahead of Saturday’s PPV clash.
“I promise you mate, the minute you exchange you’re going on the floor”
– Tony Bellew
“If you do KO me, I will get up, I will pat you on the back and say the better man won. But promise me one thing, when I beat you again, for a second time – silence -that’s all I want”
– Nathan Cleverly
Sky’s face off show The Gloves Are Off returned this week as part of the countdown to the Cleverly/Bellew rematch. The story in this one is simple. Cleverly, who went into the first match-up as a heavy favourite, was pushed to his limit by Bellew, only just shading a majority decision. This time around they’ve each taken the step up from light heavyweight to cruiser – a move which is felt should benefit Bellew as the naturally bigger man. The winner of the bout will likely go on to challenge for another world title in his next fight, while the loser could be left out in the cold and facing retirement.
There are conflicting concerns regarding either man’s approach to this fight. For Clevely, it’s a case of whether or not his desire to compete is still there. Nathan has won and lost a world title already. He’s done what he wanted to in the sport and there’s a question over if he still has the motivation to do it. On the other-hand, with Bellew, it’s a matter of if he is too emotionally invested in the rivalry. Has the Cleverly loss gotten to him? Was he able to put it behind him, and if not, can he keep his cool on fight night? Each guy knows where the other’s doubts are and is able to take aim at them early and often.
Bellew had the last word in every exchange, but as the bigger talker of the two, that was to be expected. He did however appear to be trying to draw a response from Cleverly, and when it didn’t come, he seemed to be working himself up into rage leading to his eventual walkout. There were shades of the Froch/Groves 2 face off, where George tried the same tactics and just couldn’t get Froch to take the bait. I will say this about Bellew though, when it comes to fight promotion, he knows where the on/off switch is. This is part of what he does, and as of yet, he has never let his temperament overrule strategy. I would be surprised if that was to change now. It’s an interesting look at where both guys are at mentally as the big fight approaches in any case.