Tough Cleverly confesses to boxing Bellew with cracked rib

21 Oct

Ibrahim Harb – Birmingham

From the sparsely populated Cefn Fforest in Wales has emerged a boxer who has not only proven his mettle due to his undefeated status against ranked opponents, but one who has done so whilst carrying injury as, on October 15, Nathan Cleverly – a 24-year-old Mathematics graduate – showed he has as much brawn as he does brains when he defeated big-hitting Tony Bellew in a grueling 12-rounder despite nursing a cracked rib.

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Clev (left) won a tight, competitive fight against Bellew

“We had top keep it majorly quiet,” said Clev to Box Nation regarding the injury he picked up during sparring, however, rather than postpone the contest, slated to be competed at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, the WBO light heavyweight world champion decided the show must go on and ended up playing his part in what was a fascinating and intriguing match-up.

Embellishing on the incident, Cleverly (23-0-0, 11ko) added: “I did it when I was training in London two weeks before the fight. I did six rounds with [British super middleweight champion] George Groves and then another six with Chris Eubanks’ boy [Chris Eubanks Jr] and in the 11th [round] he caught me on the back and cracked a rib. I finished off the 12 rounds and didn’t show any pain.

“I had a week of sparring back home planned with heavyweight Sam Sexton which I had to cancel because I could not take a shot to the rib – I was in so much pain. I saw the doctor and the physio and they both said the only thing was rest. My dad, girlfriend, [Groves’ trainer] Adam Booth and Groves – who had been there when it happened – were the only ones who knew. And I also told Frank Warren. I gave it a couple of days and in the end I said, ‘bugger it – let’s gamble on him not throwing any body shots with the left’.”

That gamble paid off as, in a highly-anticipated domestic grudge fight, Cleverly prevailed by way majority decision. The three ringside judges registered scores of 117-112, 116-113 and 114-114. On The Beak, meanwhile, saw a back-and-forth 115-113 contest in favour of the official winner; Clev.

“He did throw a couple of left body-shots, one which caught me flush on the rib. It just sent a shooting pain right through my body because it’s a three to six-week injury. It was so painful but I refused to give in and dug deep.”

The way Bellew (16-1-0, 10ko) was boxing, though, made Cleverly second guess whether his foe caught wind of the fact that the champion was struggling when he attacked the body: “During the fight I thought ‘this guy knows about it’ and I started questioning myself because he was throwing a lot more body shots than he had before in fights.

“But I just disguised it and didn’t show any emotion. I went through the pain barrier.”

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