Cleverly: Step up will suit me

  • Last Updated: May 6 2014, 15:26 BST

Nathan Cleverly is promising to pack a punch at his new weight when he makes his cruiserweight debut against Sean Corbin at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on May 17, live on Sky Sports.

Nathan Cleverly: Time to move up a division
Nathan Cleverly: Time to move up a division

The Welshman moves up from light-heavyweight for the first time against the Guyanese insisting he is ready to show he has the extra power at 200lbs.

"I can still make light-heavyweight, but there's a difference between making the weight and performing at my best at the weight," said Cleverly, who returns to the scene of his final fight at his previous weight against big-hitting Russian Sergey Kovalev last August.

"There's no way I can perform at my best at 12st 7lbs. My body fat percentage is too low and I feel sluggish when I try to get down to the weight, my mouth gets dry and my legs get heavy.

"I've experimented in the gym at various weights and when I am at 13st 5lbs I feel great - really sharp and energetic. Ideally there would be a weight in between light-heavyweight and cruiserweight but there's not.

"I don't want to sacrifice any more to make weight so it's time to move up and to do it properly, that's why I have taken the time to grow into the weight properly.

"I need a few fights to settle into the weight. You are going to come up against some big guys and I need to see how I react to that and deal with it, I think I will handle it well and that's what we'll find out on May 17."

Cleverly enjoyed over two-and-a-half years as the WBO light-heavyweight king and the 27-year-old says that although his defeat to big-hitting Russian Sergey Kovalev last August was painful, it enabled him to rediscover his hunger for the game.

"The Kovalev defeat was gutting, I was disappointed and frustrated and I needed a break," he said. "I had a long training camp and the last thing I wanted to do was get back into the gym or in the ring.

"I ate a bit of junk food, had a few nights out and I was waiting to be mentally back on it. A few months ago it hit home that I wanted to go again and really make my mark and now I am ready for that and excited again now.

"Kovalev is a massive puncher; each punch is like being hit by a sledgehammer. He sparked Ismaly Sillah clean out in the second round - he was completely gone. He didn't do that to me, he shook me up and I was in no position to continue really.

"I was drunk from the punches and I have got a great chin, so he does hit hard and he's probably the most dangerous light heavyweight out there.

"At the time I felt like I could win, he was the favourite going into the fight with the bookies and they rarely get things wrong - he was the favourite for good reason but we took the gamble.

"I want those type of fights and I wanted them earlier truth be told, but we made that one happen and the gamble didn't pay off. But at cruiserweight I will be back at that level in a couple of fights and they are the fights I love - big 50/50 fights with world titles on the line, everything to lose and the pressure on. That excites me."

Cleverly's debut at cruiserweight against Corbin tops a great line-up in Cardiff as Lee Selby faces Romulu Koasicha in an official eliminator for the WBC featherweight title with the International belt on the line.

There's a rematch between Welsh lightweights Gary Buckland and Gavin Rees, who served up a Fight of the Year contender in the same venue in February, and Liverpool's super-middleweight star Callum Smith defends his WBC International super-middleweight title against Swansea's Tobias Webb.

Dale Evans faces Mark Douglas, while Chris Jenkins, Mitch Buckland, Robbie Turley and Alex Hughes are also in action.

New Sky Bet customers: Free matched bet up to £30