Nathan Cleverly ready to rise to occasion against Andrzej Fonfara
Last Updated: 13/10/15 8:38pm
Nathan Cleverly thinks Friday night's light-heavyweight clash with Andrzej Fonfara in Chicago will be even bigger than the world title fight he turned down.
Former WBO champion Cleverly ended up rejecting a chance to face WBA champion Juergen Braehmer in favour of a fight with the dangerous Fonfara, who stopped Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in April.
Fonfara is Polish but is based in Chicago and is likely to receive the bulk of the support when he faces Cleverly at the weekend, with the fight live on Sky Sports 1 from 2am on Saturday morning.
However, Cleverly thinks victory over such a tough opponent could set up a huge fight with Adonis Stevenson or a rematch with Sergey Kovalev.
"I was presented with the opportunity to fight Juergen Braehmer in Germany for the WBA world title," said Cleverly.
"I had my heart set on that fight, I was looking forward to that fight. It was a chance for me to become world champion again.
"Then my promoter came back to me a few weeks later with the opportunity to fight Andrzej Fonfara in America, in Chicago.
"Suddenly I was presented with this fantastic opportunity to come to America and showcase in a big fight against Fonfara.
"So ultimately, I just feel fighting here in America on this big stage, I just feel it was too much of a big opportunity to turn away.
"I declined the world title fight and I believe this is a bigger fight. It's probably a more difficult fight but it's on a bigger platform. It's in the States and I like fighting here, so let's do it."
I declined the world title fight and I believe this is a bigger fight. It's probably a more difficult fight but it's on a bigger platform.
However, Cleverly knows that Fonfara is certain to prove a tough opponent.
"This will be my toughest fight I think, apart from Sergey Kovalev," said the 28-year-old Welshman.
"I think Andrzej Fanfara is probably going to be the toughest. You know, his resume, his recent performances, he's looked good. So, yes, this is my toughest fight.
"But I've prepared well for this fight, I'm looking forward to it. I just think the winner of this fight, it's the gateway to the elite fights with Stevenson and Kovalev. This is the kind of eliminator for those fights.
"It's a tough fight but, provided I get through this, then I'm in that elite mix.
"This is my third time in the States, my third fight in the States. I fought in Las Vegas a few years ago and then in LA a few years later, where I defended my world title. Each occasion has been a fantastic experience.
"I've loved every moment of it and I'm back and I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a great fight, this one. I want to be world champion again. Fonfara, he's in my way.
"I don't think there's many weaknesses with Andrzej but what I can capitalize on I believe is my movement, my speed and my punch variation. I believe the variety will give Fonfara problems and I believe I can pull this off."