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Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Cleverly considers leaving Wales to fix sparring issue

Nathan Cleverly
Nathan Cleverly is still unbeaten in his 21 fights since his pro debut in 2005

Nathan Cleverly has revealed he may be forced to leave Wales for his pre-fight training because of a potentially costly shortage of sparring partners.

The interim WBO world light-heavyweight champion complained about a lack of top quality opponents before his scrappy points win over Nadjib Mohammedi.

The unbeaten Welshman is now reviewing his pre-fight preparation as Cleverly prepares for a world title challenge.

"We are discussing what our next move is training wise," said Cleverly.

The 23-year-old bemoaned his "messy" triumph over "nightmare" Mohammedi in Liverpool on 11 December.

The awkward Frenchman answered an 11th hour call after initial foe Alejandro Lakatos withdrew on the Wednesday before suffering pneumonia.

Cleverly conceded Mohammedi was the toughest opponent of his unblemished 21-fight professional career.

But afterwards he bemoaned disappointing preparation that could cost him in a world title challenge against one of the division's top fighters.

"Training went okay but it was not great," Cleverly said in the immediate aftermath.

"I won't go into detail but I'm struggling to find sparring at the moment so I will have to sort that out and hopefully come back a better fighter.

We were struggling before the last fight because I was relying on amateur fighters coming in and sharing the rounds - so I was low on numbers for quality sparring

Interim WBO world light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly

"It was the most frustrating 12 rounds I had ever done, including sparring as well as the fight."

Cleverly, his trainer and father Vince and promoter Frank Warren are now deliberating whether the Welshman should continue training full-time in the Gwent Valleys or relocate to a pre-fight training camp in either London or Manchester.

"The question is are we going to stay put in Wales and bring in sparring partners from elsewhere?" Cleverly told BBC Sport.

"Or if we'll have to go nearer to potential training partners in Manchester or London for a pre-fight training camp for a couple of weeks specifically for sparring.

"We were struggling before the last fight because I was relying on amateur fighters coming in and sharing the rounds - so I was low on numbers for quality sparring.

"Ideally I would stay in Wales because it is what I'm used to.

"However, the advantage of going somewhere else for training camps is it takes you out of your comfort zone and gets you different sparring partners.

"But I won't be leaving Wales permanently. I don't see any reason for it as it has worked well for me this far."

Cleverly has impressed as a young boxer and has won the British, Commonwealth and European belts. Now he is next in line for a WBO world title tilt.

And as interim WBO title-holder, the Cefn Fforest fighter has been promised a shot at the winner of WBO champ Juergen Braehmer and WBA and IBA champion Beibut Shumenov who fight in a unification showdown on 8 January in Kazakhstan.

Cleverly hopes to become the 11th Welsh world champion and has certainly moved into the top-class of world light-heavyweights.

He is sixth in the 175 pound rankings of the prestigious Ring Magazine - the self-styled 'Bible of Boxing' - behind number one Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins, Tavoris Cloud, Chad Dawson and Glen Johnson.

Cleverly is eyeing those big name light-heavyweights after fighting the winner of Braehmer v Shumenov in a possible unification showdown.

So now the young Welshman knows he must sort out his sparring issues before considering taking on those world-class performers.

"We'll make a decision on our training issue early in the new year," said Cleverly.

see also
Cleverly set for world title shot
17 Mar 11 |  Boxing
Cleverly edges to points victory
11 Dec 10 |  Boxing
Braehmer queries Cleverly's punch
23 Sep 10 |  Boxing
Warren wants Cleverly 'world' bid
20 Sep 10 |  Boxing
Impressive Cleverly defeats Murat
18 Sep 10 |  Boxing
Cleverly targets 'top man' Pascal
17 Aug 10 |  Boxing
Is Cleverly the new Calzaghe?
22 Jul 09 |  Boxing
Nathan Cleverly in photos
08 Apr 10 |  Boxing
Wales' boxing world champions
25 Mar 08 |  Boxing
Wales' pugilist princes
15 May 09 |  Boxing
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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