Even before Andre Ward began hinting at a move to light heavyweight, there was no shortage of talent at 175 pounds.
Depending on who’s being probed, the man to beat in the division is Sergey Kovalev, or maybe it’s Adonis Stevenson, or, if you like the long-shot, you may even call the menacing, yet largely untested, Artur Beterbiev the biggest threat to everyone in the weight class.
While we will have to wait a bit longer to get that answer, this Friday, from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, IL, a match that may shake up the divisional top ten list will be contested between Poland’s Andrzej Fonfara (27-3, 16 KOs) and former WBO belt holder Nathan Cleverly (29-2, 15 KOs). The Welshman returns to the division after a two-year absence and marginal success at Cruiserweight.
Since losing a unanimous decision to current WBC and Ring Champion Adonis Stevenson in 2013, Fonfara has amassed wins against game veteran Doudou Ngumbu and a “not-so-game-and-kinda-chubby” Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a perplexing catchweight matchup at 172 pounds.
“We are both tall guys, strong guys, good punchers, and I’m happy Cleverly is ready for this fight too. I want him to be in top shape because I want to fight the best Cleverly of his career” said Fonfara at the final press conference earlier in the week.
Since losing a rematch to Tony Bellew in November of last year, Cleverly has dropped nearly 10% of his weight and looked svelte and ready at 174.75 lbs in Chicago earlier today. Fonfara looked equally prepared and comfortable on the scales weighing in at 174.5 lbs.
After making the weights official, they fiercely stared each other down but exchanged a respectful handshake before leaving the stage.
Chicago area fight fans are expecting a good show this Friday, as is Cleverly, “We both come to fight; we let our punches go and fight on the front foot.”
With Stevenson and Kovalev unlikely to face each other anytime soon, it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if the tomorrow’s victor earns a shot at a shiny leather belt in the spring of 2016.