Boxing: Nathan Cleverly to fight Tony Bellew at O2 Arena

Nathan Cleverly has welcomed the chance to shut domestic rival Tony Bellew up when he defends his newly-acquired WBO light-heavyweight title on Saturday.

The Welshman will face Liverpool's Bellew after Juergen Braehmer, who he had been set to challenge for the WBO belt, pulled out of the O2 Arena bout and was stripped of his title.



Cleverly was subsequently upgraded from 'interim' champion and for his first defence, promoter Frank Warren gave a chance to unbeaten Commonwealth champion Bellew.



Cleverly said: "I'm really happy that Bellew will be in the opposite corner on Saturday night.



"Not only will he feel my anger from Braehmer pulling out, he'll now pay for slagging me off in the last year.



"I knew we would get it on one day and that day has come a lot sooner than expected, but I'm ready for Bellew and he's going to get knocked out."



Cleverly added on Sky Sports News: "I find him a disrespectful fighter with a loud mouth.



"He has a different style from Braehmer so I have to change my gameplan.



"I have been preparing for a southpaw in Braehmer and Bellew is an orthodox fighter.



"But when you are a boxer you have to adapt to all styles."



It emerged yesterday that champion Braehmer was not going to defend his belt, citing an eye injury, and Warren then lobbied the WBO to strip the German and name Cleverly champion while beginning the search for a credible replacement opponent.



Bellew, ranked in the WBO top 20, jumped at the chance, while the governing body granted Warren's wish overnight.



"The fight between Nathan and Tony has been brewing up in the last year and it's happened sooner than expected," Warren said.



"But I'm delighted that the fight is on and the fans are in for a real treat on Saturday night.



"There is nothing like big domestic fights and in this case on Saturday at the O2 we have two big title fights involving British guys and I'm expecting fireworks in the ring."



Bellew, 28, has long craved a showdown with 24-year-old Welsh talent Cleverly.



The younger man has garnered more attention in recent years due to his rapid rise through the sport while studying a mathematics degree which he completed last year.



But Bellew is a talent himself and despite wobbles in recent performances, the Liverpudlian remains unbeaten and has a reputation as a powerful puncher.



Bellew (15-0, 10KOs) had been training for a July rematch with Ovill McKenzie anyway and said: "I'm coming down to London to fight and believe when I say I'm going to knock Cleverly out cold.



"I wouldn't have put myself forward if I didn't think I could beat him.



"Be it two months' notice or two days' notice, I know I can beat Cleverly - I always have. For the fans, I can promise them the best fight they will see in the last 10 years."



The news adds spice to an already solid card in London, with Cleverly (21-0, 10KOs) sharing top billing with the much-hyped British and Commonwealth super-middleweight title clash between James DeGale and George Groves.



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