Kovalev bout is Nathan Cleverly's big chance - Joe Calzaghe

Nathan Celeverly

WBO world light-heavyweight championship: Nathan Cleverly v Sergey Kovalev

Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Saturday, 17 August, 2013
22:00 BST
Live Commentary on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Sport Online

Joe Calzaghe says Nathan Cleverly can catapult himself into the top flight of world boxing by beating Sergey Kovalev.

WBO light-heavyweight champion Cleverly faces the unbeaten Russian in Cardiff on Saturday in front of American pay-per-view TV cameras.

And former unbeaten champion Calzaghe says it is his fellow Welshman's chance to hit the big time.

"They're saying that Kovalev is the next big thing. This is a golden opportunity for Nathan," he said.

"Winning this fight and winning it in good style would catapult him among the top light-heavies in the world, up there with [Bernard] Hopkins.

"Nathan winning this fight would put him up there in that league."

Speaking on Radio Wales Sport, Calzaghe compared the bout this Saturday with his own meeting with Jeff Lacy in 2006.

His stunning display on that occasion the Welshman's profile in America and acted as a springboard for his later fights with Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones jnr.

He believes Kovalev is a dangerous opponent for Cleverly, but also presents an opportunity to establish a profile in the USA.

"Nathan is down the pecking order a bit because he needs a big fight not just over here but for the States," said Calzaghe.

"This is the perfect fight for him because he's fighting a guy who's coming with the backing of American TV - a guy the Americans expect to win, similar to myself with Jeff Lacy.

"[American TV company] Showtime came over talking about Jeff Lacy, and they went away talking about Joe Calzaghe.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for Nathan to put his mark on the division.

"I'm excited for him I think he's ready for this fight. He's been champion for two years now but I think now he needs to step up and bring that extra little bit out of him.

Cleverly, 26, is unbeaten in 26 fights with 12 stoppages. His opponent Kovalev, 30, has a perfect 21-fight professional career with 18 wins coming inside three rounds.

Calzaghe, who retired from the ring in February 2009, also believes that in accepting Kovalev as a challenger, Cleverly has underlined his determination to make a mark.

"This is a fight he chose," added Calzaghe.

"He didn't have to take this fight, so that just shows the ambition of Nathan Cleverly that he's taken this dangerous opponent and doesn't want to be wasting time.

"He wants to fast-track himself to the top to the big super fights."

Top Stories