Q&A: Nathan Cleverly

Hi Nathan! How’s preparation been ahead of your fight?

I’m ready for it. I’m always focused when I’m in the gym. I like to train hard and it gets pretty intense, I like to be as fit as I can be for the fights.

Have you been in the ring with Carol Vorderman like you were ahead of your last fight?

Nah, that was all about building my profile and getting non-boxing people interested, that’s why I was training with Carol before my last fight!

Ha-ha! What was she like?

Carol was a nice woman; we had a fun time in the ring. We were talking about partying and stuff.

Nathan Cleverly Carol Vorderman
On the pads with Carol

Are you better at maths than her?

Ha-ha! Nah, she didn’t test me on my Maths luckily I’ve forgotten it all now! It wouldn’t take me long to pick it all back up though.

Do you like doing stuff like that?

Media stuff is part of the business now isn’t it. I just get on with it and enjoy it while it lasts!

Your dad is your trainer. Do you ever argue?

I do fall out with my dad sometimes but it’s all sorted out the following day. Sometimes my dad had to push me but it hurts him as much as me. He doesn’t like to see me taking silly punches in the ring.

Who’s the best you’ve been in the ring with?

Over the years I’ve fought and sparred with some excellent fighters. Notably Joe Calzaghe when I was a young professional coming through. He was the best at the time so I got invaluable experience doing that. These days I’ll spar with whoever wants to step in the ring with me.

Do you get annoyed when people compare you to Joe Calzaghe?

Joe Calzaghe wasn’t a world champion when he was twenty four. You can’t compare us, we’re different fighters.

Nathan Cleverly
Speaking with the champ

You were boxing while you were at university. What was that like?

I’d had one pro fight then five of us lived in one house which was crazy. I had a great time, my social life was great and then when I won the Commonwealth title I was going into my third year and I started getting recognised when I was out.

Did you live the normal student life still?

Yeah, I stayed in halls in first year and then lived with my mates in my second year, which was mad. I was still at uni when I’d just turned pro as well so I was still going to lectures and stuff while I was travelling back and forth with my boxing. But I tried to live a normal student live, I went out on student nights and stuff.

Were you drinking as much as other students?

I don’t drink alcohol when I’m in training and I put the social life on the backburner as well. I’d go out with my mates to Cardiff and have some downtime and forget about boxing for a little bit but then I’m focused on the training the next day. I train hard so rewarding myself with some time with my mates is fine.

What do your uni mates make you of being a world champion?

I’m still friends with the same people from school days and Uni days. Being a world champ hasn’t really changed me that much. I try and live a normal life despite being a world champion and dealing with the pressure that comes with performing at the highest level in sport both physically and mentally. Every fight I have from now is getting more and more intense. There are a lot more media workouts with my fights these days and general media interest so I’m enjoying doing more and more of that now.

Wasn’t there a point where you were going to quit boxing?

I thought I was going to have to decide between getting the degree and leave the boxing and vice versa but I managed to put in the hard graft and do both. Not quitting Uni was one of the best decisions I could have made as I’ve got the degree to fall back on.

Nathan Cleverly vs Tony Bellew
Cleverly vs Tony Bellew

Surely the boxing has worked out…

Ha-ha yeah but I’m glad I didn’t miss out on the Uni life; it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve had the best of both worlds. The social side of Uni is the best time you can have, I really enjoyed myself!

Are you surprised at how quickly you became a world champ?

It has all happened really quickly to be honest. I’ve flown through the levels and in terms of boxing I’m still very young so that eases the pressure really. I won all the titles at the lower levels and won the world title in just a few years so it has all happened fast.

What are your ambitions now?

I would love to fight in Las Vegas on the top of a major bill. I’ve fought there previously but I’d love to see my name in lights and headline it. Vegas is a perfect place to stage these big boxing events so I’d like to be a part of one of those. That’s most boxers dream I think. I love Vegas, the glitz and glamour it adds to boxing is what we need. I also want to fight at the Millennium stadium in a world title fight. I love it there; it’s massive, so headlining that would be awesome. That’s another dream of mine.

How do you keep motivating yourself when you won the title so early in your career?

You just have to keep setting new goals because, ultimately, I’ve already achieved my dreams in becoming a world champion. The training doesn’t stop when you become champion. You have to work harder to keep the title. The next step is for me to become the undisputed champ of the world.

How do you relax away from boxing?

When I’m not in the training or on my day off I like to do a bit of shopping or go on holiday. I go down the casino with my mates as well and have poker tournaments and stuff.

Do you play music and stuff in the dressing room before a fight?

It’s pretty relaxed in the dressing room beforehand; I’m not fussy on who’s in there as I’m normally sat there with my headphones on.

Thanks Nathan! Finally, who would you like to fight next?

There has been talk about fighting Carl Froch but I think it’s a long way off from happening. Both of us need to want the fight but I think Carl is looking at other opponents at the moment but if it was to happen I’m sure it would be an excellent fight. And we’re both British so it would be one the fans would want to see I’m sure.