The rumour mill is in overdrive on who is next for Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KOs). It makes no sense for him to sit, and wait, for the huge clash with WBA ‘Super’, IBF and WBO World light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. The Oakland, California-based Ward is looking to fight in July. The name that I’ve been told is a real possibility is that of Nathan Cleverly (29-3, 15 KOs).
On Twitter, on April 28th, the Welshman Nathan Cleverly tweeted: Little tune up fight May 28th. Then Braehmer, Fonfara, and Andre Ward all in the mix.
The former WBO Light Heavyweight champion is set to appear on the Matchroom Boxing card at The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland. Topping that bill is the vacant WBA World super lightweight title contest between Ricky Burns and Italian Michele Di Rocco.
Roc Nation promotes “S.O.G” Andre Ward and he has a TV deal with HBO. Long seen as one of the best ‘P4P’ fighters in Boxing, Ward enjoyed several years as the No.1 super middleweight in the World. He won the Showtime TV backed ‘Super 6’ defeating the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch. Promotional wrangles stalled his career but in 2015, after an eighteen-month absence, he returned to defeat Paul Smith.
Ward is now based in the 175lbs division and has already signed a deal to face division ruler Sergey Kovalev, at the end of 2016.
In March, he took the undefeated record of Cuban Sullivan Barrera and is looking to fight again in July. Ukraine’s “Lion Heart” Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (16-0, 13 KO), has reportedly turned down the chance to face Andre. Sergey Kovalev takes on Isaac Chilemba in a Russian ‘homecoming’ on the 11th July.
Ward has made it clear that he wants another fight before taking on the powerful “Krusher” Kovalev, who took the WBO title from Cleverly in devastating fashion back in 2013. The suitable opponent would need to be a test, who brings ambition and has fought at the highest level, in the division, and Nathan Cleverly fits the bill perfectly.
Nathan Cleverly held the WBO Light Heavyweight title from 2010 to 2013 and beat the likes of Nadjib Mohammedi, Tony Bellew, Shawn Hawk and Robin Krasniqi before losing it to Sergey Kovalev. The rangy orthodox boxer is known for his toughness and high workrate. He briefly moved up to Cruiserweight but after a defeat to Tony Bellew, decided to campaign again at 175lbs.
Several sources confirm that a Ward vs Cleverly clash is a very realistic possibility. The likelihood is that it would take place in the US, where Nathan has fought in Los Angeles and Chicago. His last fight was a tough, close and competitive decision loss to the World Class Andrzej Fonfara in October 2015. A warm-up in May makes a lot of sense before taking on such a huge challenge in Andre Ward.
There are several options available and at this stage of his career, the 29-year-old has a perfect opportunity to face one of boxing’s best fighters.