Nathan Cleverly’s long awaited cruiserweight debut is set to take place in Cardiff on May 17 against Guyana's Sean Corbin.
The 27-year-old has not been in the ring since his surprise defeat at the hands of Sergei Kovalev last August. which ended his reign as WBO world light-heavyweight champion.
After that fourth round stoppage Cleverly considered the idea of quitting the sport for good, but following him signing with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom stable he is now set for a dramatic return at a new weight class.
He will now face a man who is 12 years his elder – the 39-year-old Corbin has won 17 of his 21 fights, but is less experienced than his British opponent – Cleverly has lost just once in 27 bouts, yet they have both inflicted 12 knock-outs each throughout their careers.
Cleverly’s promoter Hearn told Sportsmail: “This is a big fight for Nathan. We are all looking forward to seeing how he will do at a new weight.
“Corbin has fought at elite level against former world champions like Karo Murat and he punches hard. It will be a good and dangerous test for Nathan at cruiserweight.”
Corbin beat the former world cruiserweight champion Wayne Braithwaite in October 2012, before he failed in his bid to win the WBC international silver title against Mateusz Masternak last year.
Cleverly switched promoters to work with Hearn’s Matchroom team having previously been part of Frank Warren’s stable, and it would seem that he is being maneuvered towards a winter rematch against his bitter rival Tony Bellew, who he beat via a majority decision in 2011.
The Welsh fighter was set to make his debut at cruiserweight during the winter of last year, but was forced to call it off after suffering a back injury in training that ruled him out of a title fight against Daniel Ammann.
Cleverly was then due to fight the Australian Ammann for the vacant Commonwealth cruiserweight title at London's Copper Box and he was gutted that he had to pull out just a week before it was scheduled.
But he is now set for a new chapter of his career in 2014 and admits he can’t wait to get his career back on track.
"It was a bitter blow as training had been going so well,” Cleverly said.
"For it to only happen a week before the fight was even more devastating. I just wanted to get last year out of the way and enter 2014 with a clean slate and get my career back on track."
Nothing but a win against Corbin will set Cleverly on his way, but he knows just how hard it is going to be for him to jump from light-heavyweight to cruiserweight – which requires adding an extra 25lb of lean muscle.
His quest to win a second world title certainly won’t be easy as he’ll be facing predominantly small heavyweights, but he remains confident he’ll have the speed to deal with them.
He said: “Making the jump from light-heavyweight to cruiserweight is a 25lb difference, it’s the biggest weight jump in all of the divisions in boxing.
“To prepare for the move I’ve got a sports nutritionist monitoring my diet and steak is one of the main components. It’s protein packed and perfect for bulking up, I’m eating it everyday, but it’s starting to get a bit tiring.
“The move up to cruiserweight was much needed though and before I lost to Kovalev I was thinking about it anyway.
“I’m looking forward to life as cruiserweight. With the extra weight I’ll still have my speed and that will be a big factor in dealing with these guys.”
We will find out for sure just how well the Welshman handles his first fight at cruiserweight next month, but it is a bout that he will be expected to win.
The prospect of a rematch with Bellew is what everyone really wants to see now they are both in the same weight class once again, and it is certainly on the cards in the near future.
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