The stakes are at their highest for me in Las Vegas
It’s all on the line for Nathan Cleverly
ILOVE Las Vegas – the vibrancy, the bright lights and the poker. For me it’s the best city in the world. I first came out here in 2008 when I boxed on the undercard of Joe Calzaghebernard Hopkins, and I’ve loved it ever since. I think this is my seventh visit since. But it’s very different this time. Back then I was out here for just under two weeks and it was all focus before the fight. I stayed away from the vibrancy of the Strip. I stayed on the outskirts. We were mainly sparring, myself and Joe. I didn’t really get a feel for the enjoyment side of Vegas until the day after the fight. I was staying in the Planet Hollywood hotel, I won my fight and I was on a high. I remember just being on my own and loving it. I entered a few poker tournaments that night. I didn’t make the final table but I was enjoying the moment regardless. I didn’t care where I came.
This time I’m right on the Strip at New York New York. We’ve been doing a few runs around here. Today we ran literally up the Strip, dodging past people as we went. We also went for a run around the back of the block. It’s not ideal but it will do. This fight against Badou
COULD BADOU JACK BE ELITE? I DON’T THINK HE’S POUND-FOR-POUND MATERIAL
Jack took a long time to make. I had to stay patient for this fight. When you want a big fight you are going to have to stay patient at some point because it takes a long time to make them. I last fought in October and it’s now August, so it has been a long time but I stayed confident, mentally strong and focused.
I felt like this fight was meant to be. Jack beat George Groves and could have beaten James Degale but got a draw. When he announced he was moving up to light heavyweight I thought it’s the perfect opponent for us. He’s a big name, he’s established and I’m established. I told [promoter] Eddie Hearn I wanted it and he worked hard to go out and make it happen, and it’s an absolute bonus that it’s fallen on the Floyd Mayweatherconor Mcgregor show.
It’s tough to stay focused when you’re waiting, but you have to act as a professional fighter. I took a mature mindset towards it and it has paid off because here we are at a history-making event. Patience was a virtue there.
As for Jack, he’s a consistent, world-class, solid fighter. He has fought four world-class fighters in his last four fights. He has established himself as a top-class fighter, but I wouldn’t say he’s elite – not yet. Could he potentially be elite? I don’t know. I don’t think he’s pound-for-pound material. He does the basics very well, Badou Jack, he’s very solid in every department. Nothing special but very solid in every department, well schooled, good technique and does the basics well.
I know all about gambling in Las Vegas and the stakes are high here. To use a poker phrase, I’m all in with this fight because if you win you’re in the big time. To break through to that elite hierarchy, which is what the top fighters love, then I have to win this fight.
I probably won’t reach this level again if I lose. It’s now or never for me. Before I get out of boxing I want to reach that elite level.
Could one defeat end my career? Yes, I would say it’s that crucial now. We are at the stage of my career that any defeat could be the end. It’s such a way to climb back up to get another world title opportunity. I’ve been here, I’ve done it. Would I have the patience and character to do my little fights and get my way back up? I’ve already done that.
I’m at the highest level and I’m here to stay. Defeat is not an option for me.
BIG WIN: Cleverly [left] outlasts Braehmer to set up his clash with Jack
Nathan Cleverly Top lightheavyweight