Nathan Cleverly may still be undefeated after 24 professional fights, but it can be argued that he has never really fought anyone decent and this will certainly not improve in his first trip to the US to defend his WBO light-heavyweight title.
There is truth that Shawn Hawk is a late replacement for Ryan Coyne, but you have to seriously question whether there was not a better alternative to a fighter currently world-ranked 50th in the light-heavyweight ranks.
Hawk did not only lose his last bout, but barely won a round against another fighter who was still a relative rookie.
In a way Cleverly is in a no-win situation, as given the gulf in class between the pair, he should theoretically have few issues ending the fight in the first quarter.
The Welshman is 1/25 to win the fight, but 4/7 must be a good price that he prevails by stoppage, even if Cleverly does not have the greatest track record of stopping inferior opposition.
He has only stopped one of his last four opponents and Freddie Roach commented after a recent sparring session that Cleverly’s punching power “is not the best in the world”, which could be improved by getting into better counter-punching positions.
This deficiency in technique will have no bearing here and Cleverly can be expected to end the fight through a sheer number of punches rather than one clean shot.
What lies next for Cleverly is of greater interest as he must be given the chance to step into the ring with a higher calibre of opponent and one that at least has the capability of becoming a world champion.
Oscar De La Hoya has stated an interest in lining up a fight in Britain next year with Bernard Hopkins, while a title unification battle with either Chad Dawson or Tavoris Cloud is a possibility.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.