BLESSED RE­LIEF

The sup­port­ing cast to the cir­cus cre­ate a com­pelling un­der­card, writes Ge­orge Gigney

Boxing News - - Contents -

The Las Ve­gas un­der­card thank­fully fea­tures some top, com­pet­i­tive fights

FEAR not, box­ing fans. The Mayw eat hermc greg or show is not com­pletely de­void of de­cent fights. In fact, the un­der­card is packed with sev­eral. Wales’ EX-WBO lightheavy­weight king Nathan Clev­erly serves as chief sup­port against former WBC su­per-mid­dle cham­pion Badou Jack, who is mov­ing up to light-heavy.

Clev­erly only fought once last year, and this will be his first out­ing since that vi­tal win over Juer­gen Braehmer in Ger­many. Hav­ing lost to An­drzej Fon­fara in an en­thralling clash in 2015, Clev­erly aimed to launch him­self back onto the world stage by tak­ing on vet­eran Braehmer.

In another shoot-out, the 30-year-old had his hand raised when Juer­gen did not an­swer the bell for the sev­enth round, cit­ing an in­jury as his rea­son for re­tir­ing. Braehmer was ahead on the cards, but Clev­erly’s workrate and grit had dragged them both into a gru­elling bat­tle, which seemed to have been tip­ping Nathan’s way.

Ini­tially, it looked as though Clev­erly and Braehmer would meet in a re­match, but as time wore on, the Welsh­man’s at­ten­tion turned to Jack. The Las Ve­gas-based Swede warred with IBF su­per-mid­dleweight cham­pion James Degale in Jan­uary, bat­tling to a draw. Soon af­ter, Jack va­cated his WBC belt and an­nounced his move to 175lbs – al­most in a di­rect trade with Braehmer, who dropped to su­per-mid­dleweight and en­tered the World Box­ing Su­per Se­ries.

Given their in­cred­i­ble fight, Degale wanted a re­match with Jack, but the 33-year-old in­sisted his time at 168lbs is done, as he has out­grown the divi­sion. A bout with Cefn Ffor­est’s Clev­erly was first mooted months ago, and talks got un­der­way fairly quickly, but they were stretched out and the fight was only an­nounced re­cently. How­ever, both men have been deep in camp and Clev­erly says he will be more than ready come fight night: “I’ve trained long and hard for this fight and I’m ready to be let off the leash. This is the big­gest fight of my ca­reer.” Jack, pro­moted by May­weather, was al­ways a big su­per­mid­dle, and claims he can now fo­cus more on the tech­ni­cal side of his game, rather than cut­ting weight. “The big­gest dif­fer­ence be­tween past train­ing camps and pre­par­ing for this fight is the fact that I was train­ing to get the weight down, but now I’m train­ing to build mus­cle and per­fect my box­ing strat­egy.”

‘I USED TO TRAIN TO GET THE WEIGHT DOWN. NOW I TRAIN TO BUILD MUS­CLE’

Jack’s box­ing abil­ity has reg­u­larly been un­der­es­ti­mated, and he has proven him­self a world-level op­er­a­tor against the likes of Degale and Ge­orge Groves, whom he out­pointed in 2015. That’s largely down to the fact that there is no one thing he is ex­cep­tion­ally good at, but he does do ev­ery­thing well.

Con­versely, Clev­erly is best known for his fit­ness and con­di­tion­ing, as well as his afore­men­tioned workrate.

Jack can be hurt – Degale decked him early, and he was stun­ningly halted in­side a round by Derek Edwards in 2014 – and he some­times starts a lit­tle slowly, but cer­tainly comes on strong as a fight pro­gresses. His move up in weight is the in­trigue here and on their cur­rent form, it’s safe to as­sume these two will put on a show, but the pick is for Jack to win on points over 12.

Another May­weather pro­tégé – the 18-0 (17) IBF su­per-feather ti­tle-holder

Ger­vonta Davis – fea­tures on the bill. The un­beaten 22-year-old, Amer­ica’s youngest cur­rent world cham­pion, de­fends his ti­tle against Costa Rica’s

Fran­cisco Fon­seca, 19-0-1 (13). Bal­ti­more’s Davis is one of the most ex­cit­ing young tal­ents in the sport, and while it might be a lit­tle early to dub him our next su­per­star, he is cer­tainly on the right track. He burst onto the scene in Jan­uary when he halted Jose Pe­draza in seven for the IBF ti­tle. “Tank” fol­lowed that with an even more em­phatic vic­tory over Liam Walsh, who was stopped in three.

Prior to those wins, he had not faced any­one of real note, but he does have an ex­ten­sive and suc­cess­ful ama­teur ca­reer be­hind him.

Fon­seca, though un­beaten and car­ry­ing a re­spectable 64 per cent knock­out ra­tio, does have a rather thin record. Hav­ing boxed pre­dom­i­nantly in his home coun­try, the 23-year-old earned an IBF rank­ing last year when he knocked out Luis Gon­za­lez in three. Five of his 16 wins have come against op­po­nents with no suc­cesses to their name, and only five of his pre­vi­ous foes had win­ning records when he fought them (one of them, Eliecer Lan­zas, he met twice).

Fon­seca’s power gives him a slight chance, but Davis is a spe­cial tal­ent and should tri­umph in­side sched­ule.

A fas­ci­nat­ing cruis­er­weight tus­sle pits un­de­feated Las Ve­gas res­i­dent An­drew

Tabiti, 14-0 (12), against Philadel­phia’s former world champ Steve Cun­ning­ham, 29-8-1 (13), over 10 rounds.

Another 10-rounder worth your time is 19-3 (9) Cuban Yor­de­nis

Ugas’ wel­ter­weight bout with Puerto Rico’s Thomas Du­lorme, 24-2 (16). Hartle­pool’s ex-ama­teur stand­out Sa­van­nah Mar­shall, who is signed to May­weather Pro­mo­tions, makes her pro de­but at su­per-mid­dleweight against Louisiana south­paw Syd­ney Leblanc, 4-3-1.

THE VER­DICT Re­gard­less of your opin­ions on the main event, be sure to catch the un­der­card.

Photo: AC­TION IMAGES/REUTERS

READY TO KICK ON: Clev­erly wants to build on his im­pres­sive win over Braehmer

‘TANK’ WAR­FARE: Davis is build­ing quite the rep­u­ta­tion for him­self

Pho­tos: IDRIS ERBA/MAY­WEATHER PRO­MO­TIONS & ES­THER LIN/SHOW­TIME

POUND­ING THE PADS: Jack [above] and Tabiti prac­tise their com­bi­na­tions

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