Cleverly v Bellew: Welshman says fight is acid test for world title push

Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew come face to face during the weigh in
Cleverly (left) and Bellew (right) will clash for the WBO and WBA intercontinental cruiserweight titles
Cleverly v Bellew
Venue: Echo Arena, Liverpool
Date: Saturday, 22 November
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website, BBC 5 live sports extra 19:30-21:00 GMT and BBC Radio 5 live 21:00-00:00 GMT

Nathan Cleverly believes Saturday's intercontinental cruiserweight title fight with Tony Bellew is the "acid test" for his world belt credentials.

The British pair, who both weighed in at 14st 3lbs on Friday, fought in 2011 when Cleverly beat Bellew on points.

The winner is likely to face reigning WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck, who will be at ringside on Saturday.

"He's a proper cruiserweight and apparently he's a big puncher," said Cleverly. "This is the acid test."

The 27-year-old Caerphilly-born fighter added: "I think it could be similar to the first fight. I believe I will be the last man standing because my preparation has been good and I've got more skills than this guy.

Carl Froch on Cleverly v Bellew
"It is going to be a great fight. The first fight was very close and I think the rematch is going to be the same until the point you will get your answer, when Tony Bellew connects on the chin. Cleverly is not suited to a cruiserweight like Bellew. Bellew was a heavyweight as an amateur, but when Cleverly turned professional he was light heavyweight. Cleverly is going to be looking for the fight, to out-box and win on points. My feeling is that Bellew is going to finish him with a shot either mid or late fight."

"All round I'm a better fighter than him," added Cleverly, who has a record of 28 wins, one loss and zero draws.

Bellew (22-2-1) will have the backing of a home crowd for the fight, which will be staged in Liverpool's Echo Arena.

The 31-year-old said: "I'm just my normal relaxed self - I'm a calm person, not an angry man. I've been fighting for my whole life and all this is nothing new.

"We will find out on Saturday night who is mentally strong and who breaks who. When he gets hit cleanly let's just see if he wants to come out and carry on trading."

A packed undercard features several big names in British boxing, with Olympic champion James DeGale (19-1-0) against Mexican Marco Antonio Periban (20-2-1) in a super-middleweight contest and George Groves (20-2-0) up against United States boxer Denis Douglin (17-3-0) in the same division.

Groves, who lost two memorable world title fights to Carl Froch, is the mandatory challenger for Anthony Dirrell's WBC belt, although he must first come through the contest against the American.

The other fights on the undercard:

Scott Quigg v Hidenori Otake

WBA super-bantamweight title

Quigg 29-0-2 Otake 22-1-3

Scott Quigg on BBC Radio 5 live: "I only know what I've mainly read about him (Otake). He's highly thought of on the forums - really, we are going into the fight blind.

"We know he's aggressive going forward and he's durable. I'm going into the unknown - we don't know what he's really like. I'm 100% confident and prepared. He won't have answers for anything that I bring to him."

Jamie McDonnell v Javier Chacon

WBA bantamweight title

McDonnell 24-2-1 Chacon 20-2-0

Jamie McDonnell on BBC Radio 5 live: "This is a massive card and stacked with great talent. I'm privileged to share a big card again. He's (Chacon) only little. I expect a tough fight - it could go the distance. I'd like to win quite comfortably - a stoppage will be best."

Anthony Joshua v Michael Sprott

British heavyweight title eliminator

Joshua 9-0-0, Sprott 42-22-0

Michael Sprott on BBC Radio 5 live: "I'm looking forward to the fight. I'll look to bring my experience and come through. I think compared to (former opponent) Audley Harrison, he's the stronger. Harrison has probably got the better skill. I will see how it goes. He'll (Joshua) come out quick. I'll see if he can go 10 rounds. I'll have to stop him, though - that's my only hope."

Callum Smith v Nikola Sjekloca

WBC super-middleweight title eliminator

Smith 14-0-0 Sjekloca 28-2-0

Callum Smith on BBC Radio 5 live: "He's (Sjekloca) a good fighter - 29 fights and only two losses and both were to world champions. He went the distance with the two of them. This is a massive test and a massive jump. But I've come through previous fights with ease."

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