Boxing: Tyson Fury and Nathan Cleverly poised on brink of dream fights
Victories for the British pair tonight will bring career-defining contests within touching distance
Saturday 20 April 2013
Tonight British boxers in a variety of venues will fight for a variety of reasons in search of a strong position in the global jigsaw. Tyson Fury, in New York, and Nathan Cleverly, at Wembley Arena, have the most to gain and the most to lose.
Cleverly will be defending his WBO light-heavyweight title against his mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi as part of an eight-hour show featuring 14-fights from the old venue. Meanwhile, in the basement at Madison Square Garden, formerly known as the Felt Forum, Fury, the pride of the travelling world, is in a world heavyweight title eliminator against the brilliant American Steve Cunningham.
Krasniqi is an enigma in the modern game with 39 wins spread through the German suburbs in fights that took place under most radars, but he is fresh, big at the weight and confident. He is also standing between Cleverly and an agreed fight with Bernard Hopkins, one of the sport’s cash cows. The Hopkins fight would vanish, and with it a life-changing purse, if Cleverly loses.
“The pressure is on me to win, win well and get the Hopkins fight signed and sealed,” said Cleverly, a Cardiff University graduate who is unbeaten in 25 fights. “It’s been a frustrating period with fights announced, dropped and opponents pulling out.” So far four of Cleverly’s five opponents in world title fights have been switched; the late-replacements have slowed his recognition.
Fury is a baby in the heavyweight business coming in two inches taller but nearly 18 years younger than the division’s towering master Vitali Klitschko, and 13 years younger than Wladimir, the slicker of the fighting brothers. However, Fury has dismissed the two sacred lumps that have ruled the heavyweight sector with class and style for a decade.
“The Klitschko brothers will never fight me and I will keep knocking out other Eastern European stiffs until they have to retire to avoid me,” said Fury. “Nobody cares about Eastern European fighters and I’m here to deliver the glamour – that is why I’m at Madison Square Garden and they fight at beer festivals.”
A witness to the latest and boldest claims from Fury was Cunningham, who has carved out a great career as a cruiserweight world champion and a gentleman in the sport, and, not for the first time, he simply shook his head in disbelief. “He sure does talk a lot,” said Cunningham. “I just hope I get some respect when I whup him.”
Cunningham will be about six inches shorter, more than three stone lighter but has both the skills and the power to beat Fury in a long fight. Their clash is for the IBF’s No 2 position and the winner has to fight Kubrat Pulev for the right to fight Wladimir. It is, make no mistake, a massive night for Fury and British heavyweight boxing.
A Cleverly and Fury double would be a fantastic boost to a short season of fights that includes world champions Ricky Burns and Carl Froch next month, the return of Amir Khan and David Haye back fighting in June.
Latest in Sport
Tony Bellew vs Nathan Cleverly: Bellew takes his revenge with points win over Cleverly
Perth midfielder Ruben Zadkovich sent off 17 seconds after coming on against Wellington
England vs Samoa match report: England finally end losing streak as Jonny May stars in win ahead of Wallabies showdown
WWE Survivor Series 2014: Start time and full match card
Arsenal vs Manchester United match report: Wayne Rooney and a Keiran Gibbs own goal make Gunners rue missed chances
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...
£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...