Nathan Cleverly bids to leave Joe Calzaghe shadow

WBO light heavyweight title - Nathan Cleverly v Juergen Braehmer

Venue:
O2 Arena
Date:
Saturday, 21 May
Starts:
2000 BST
Coverage:
Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and online

Nathan Cleverly is determined to finally step out of Joe Calzaghe's imposing shadow by winning the WBO world light-heavyweight title.

The unbeaten 24-year-old will challenge German Juergen Braehmer for his crown at London's O2 Arena on 21 May bidding to become Wales' eighth world champion.

And Cleverly, who has earned comparison with Wales' last great boxer, wants to shrug off the Calzaghe protege tag.

"Winning the world title would see me come out of Joe's shadow," he said.

"I have been creeping out of that shadow for the last nine fights by winning the British, Commonwealth and European titles.

Nathan Cleverly
Nathan Cleverly will be the 21st Welshman to fight for a world title

"And winning this world title would put the icing on the cake and I'll become Nathan Cleverly, Wales' next world champion."

Cleverly was Calzaghe's stable-mate and former sparring partner when the young Welsh fighter turned professional in 2005.

The Cefn Fforest fighter fought on many Calzaghe undercards and was the two-weight world champion's main sparring partner on their American debuts in Las Vegas in April 2008.

Cleverly defeated Antonio Baker on points at the Thomas and Mack Center hours before Calzaghe beat Bernhard Hopkins on points in their light-heavyweight super-fight.

Comparisons between Calzaghe and Cleverly are obvious. Both hail from the Gwent Valleys, and Cleverly has followed Calzaghe's lead in training near his home and under his father's wing.

Cleverly has often been tipped as 'the new Calzaghe' but ever since leaving the famous Enzo Calzaghe gym in Newbridge in September 2008, the pupil has tried to step out of the shadow of his "mentor and good friend".

And by taking Braehmer's title, Cleverly would hope to be classed on his own merits rather than compared to the former undisputed super-middleweight king.

"I'm obviously going to be compared to Joe," said Cleverly.

"Joe was outstanding and is an absolute legend so to be compared to him as a positive.

"It will be an awesome feeling to win a world champion and I am around the corner from achieving that."

The Cleverly versus Braehmer showdown on the banks of the River Thames shares top billing with Olympic star James DeGale, who will defend his British super-middleweight title against George Groves.

Cleverly and southpaw DeGale will spar ahead of the capital clash so the 24-year-old Welshman can prepare for the left-handed style of his WBO title rival.

"I'm going down to London for a five-day training camp with James DeGale," revealed Cleverly.

"He is a southpaw like my opponent so will be good preparation.

"Braehmer has lost just twice and is a real top-class fighter and will be dangerous. It is the biggest fight of my life and I'm in the he best shape. It is time to shine."