Who wins when Cleverly & Bellew clash? Here’s what the pros think…
Nathan Cleverly may have been the victor when he and Tony Bellew clashed for the first time back in 2011 but this time around boxing fans and pundits alike are split as to whether we see Repeat or Revenge at the Echo Arena.
But if you are still not sure as to who to throw your support behind we have compiled the views of one former champions of the world and a few current stars as they try to dissect who comes out on top on Merseyside…
Joe Calzaghe – Former Undisputed Super-middleweight Champion of the World
“There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since the first fight and both have been on very different paths but for me the fight is going to be the same. Nathan won the first fight and he wasn’t 100 per cent going into it. Nathan has all the attributes to do the business on Saturday and as they say, speed kills,” the Welshman told IFL TV.
“If he fights a sensible fight, uses his speed to good effect and gets behind that powerful jab of his he has the stamina to win this fight again. Everybody loves a grudge match and Tony Bellew is a very dangerous opponent. He’s a huge puncher and will be totally committed to getting the win so it’s going to be tough for both fighters.
“But I just believe that Nathan is the better fighter and he can step up and prove himself at cruiserweight and win by a big points margin or a late stoppage.
Liam Smith – Current British and Commonwealth Light-middieweight Champion
“I’ve changed my mind a couple of times about this one. I’m not changing who I think wins the fight but I’m changing how the fight will go and how it will be won,” Smith told IFL TV.
“I said from the start Nathan Cleverly is proper up for this but I also thought it would be his downfall with Bellew stopping him inside four rounds. That was my prediction from a long way out but this past two weeks has changed my views.
“Cleverly seems very relaxed now and has calmed down which makes me think it was all a bit of an act at the start. It seemed like Nathan wanted a war and in a war Bellew takes him out. But now it seems he will box him and it will be a very good fight. But it still won’t make any difference as there’s only one winner at cruiserweight.
“Bellew hits so hard at this weight and has been involved in some of the scariest knockouts I’ve ever seen at the heavier weights and it can happen again on Saturday night.”
Anthony Crolla – Current WBO Inter-continental Lightweight Champion
“This is a genuine 50:50 fight and a really tough one to call but I’m not going to sit on the fence for this one. The main difference this time around is that the fight being at cruiserweight suits Tony Bellew more then it suits Nathan Cleverly,” Crolla, who is set to fight Richar Abril for the WBA title in January, told IFL TV.
“Nathan wasn’t really struggling with the weight at light-heavy but after defeat to Kovalev he wanted a new challenge. He lost to who I consider the best light-heavyweight on the planet so there is no shame in that but he didn’t really have to move up.
“Tony did because making weight wasn’t easy and now he is much more comfortable at this heavier weight. That will be the main difference and it will play into Bellew’s hands.”
Paul Smith Jr – British Super-middleweight Champion
“A lot of it depends on Nathan and his tactics. If he turns up and boxes on the back foot it’s going to be difficult for Tony and it will take a lot longer for him to get into range and let the bombs go. For me it’s a totally different fight at cruiserweight,” the Sky Sports pundit told IFL TV.
“From a personal point of view we’ve seen Tony Bellew fight on the back foot, we’ve seen him stand and slug it out in a war but Nathan Cleverly seems to be the same type of fighter whatever the occasion. He comes forward, marauds forward and throws a lot of punches and that’s quality.
“He’s been world champion and is a quality fighter but this fight at this weight plays into Tony’s hands. Cruiserweight suits him much more and that’s why I’m backing a Bellew victory!”
Bradley Saunders – Current WBO Inter-Continental Light Welterweight Champion
“It’s going to be a cracking fight and I can’t wait to be on the bill. I know Tony from our time on the GB squad together and I know he’s confident and he always comes to fight. He certainly can whack and he whacks even harder at the weight he’s at now.
“I’ve watched him knock numerous people out at this weight and if he’s still carrying that power, which I think he does, and then this can be a really different fight to when they fought first time around. I’m swaying with the Englishman on this one as I think his power at cruiserweight will just be too much for Nathan Cleverly.”
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.