Brutal warning for Cleverly: “Ilunga is a beast and will destroy you”
By Michael J Jones
On February 1st 2014 former WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly returns to action since his painful defeat to Sergey Kovalev and subsequent move to cruiserweight.
The 26-year-old Welshman will take on power-punching Ilunga Makabu on the undercard of Gennedy Golovkin’s latest showing against Osumanu Adama in Monte Carlo.
Cleverly is hoping to return to winning ways after an embarrassing four-round drubbing at the hands of Kovalev four months ago to suffer his first defeat in 27 contests. Many have questioned the selection of Makabu as the comeback opponent but none more so than former WBU champion Ruben Groenewald who sparred Makabu in 2009 and has monitored the Congolese boxer’s progress ever since.
“I see Nathan Cleverly is boxing Ilunga in February but trust me it won’t go the distance” Groenewald warns Livefight.
“I sparred Ilunga in 2009 nearly five years ago and, although I handled him ok, he’s much improved since then. Cleverly won’t make eight rounds.”
Little is known about Ilunga but the South African-based fighter turned pro in 2008 to be blasted out in just 29 seconds by a fighter named Khayeni Hlungwane. While that boxer achieved precious little since that win, Makabu has won fifteen contest straight since with all but one inside the distance.
Last year he won all four contests with the latter two for the WBC Silver cruiserweight belt. If anyone is questioning the 25-year-old punchers quality of opposition it’s worth noting his last six victims have had a combined 90-7-1 tally.
“This guy from the Congo is f##king good” praises Groenewald when I ask what makes Makabu so special. “He is very fit and strong, when we sparred he was only 21-years-old but his improvement is immense…I can honestly say I can’t see many world class fighters beating him.”
Surely there has to be some hope for Cleverly in the fight?
“Makabu likes to dictate the pace of a fight and come forward behind a high guard. He starts slowly, blocking punches but is there to be hit. The only way Cleverly can win is to out-work him; if Makabu throws three shots he should throw five.”
“I wish Nathan Cleverly the best for his career but if he wants to win and progress his career he should not fight Ilunga. He’s a beast and I can’t understand why Cleverly’s team have made this fight in Monaco.”
It certainly has been a diabolical few months for Cleverly. After the Kovalev defeat in August the Welshman has seen two fights fall through and now is faced with the prospect of facing a dangerous knockout artist overseas on his belated cruiserweight debut.
Some fighters are never the same after a punishing defeat but we should know just what Cleverly has left after February 1st.