The fight between former world Light-Heavyweight champions Juergen Braehmer and Nathan Cleverly was certainly highly anticipated. Not only did the encounter pit two of the best fighters in the Light-Heavyweight division against each other, but it also brought to fruition a battle that was years in the making.
Some may remember back in 2011 when Braehmer was the WBO world champion in the Light-Heavyweight division that he was scheduled to defend his championship against Cleverly, who was then the number one contender in the World Boxing Organization’s (WBO) Light-Heavyweight ratings. Braehmer pulled out of the scheduled clash citing a cut suffered in training three days before the fight was to take place. Cleverly, who was the number one contender and thus held interim championship status in the WBO’s Light-Heavyweight ratings was subsequently declared world champion.
In the five years since the fight fell apart, both fighters have enjoyed success. Braehmer would go on to win the European Light-Heavyweight championship in 2013 for the second time, after previously holding the title in 2009. Eventually Braehmer would find himself in position as holding interim/regular champion status in the World Boxing Association (WBA) Light-Heavyweight ratings as a mandatory challenger to undefeated unified world champion Sergey Kovalev a designation that Braehmer had held for nearly three years.
Cleverly meanwhile made five successful defenses of the WBO crown before being stopped by Sergey Kovalev in August 2013. Following the loss of his world championship, Cleverly had a mixture of both success and setbacks including a brief stint in the Cruiserweight division as well as losing a close split decision in his second fight against current WBC Cruiserweight world champion Tony Bellew in November 2014 and losing a decision in October of last year to longtime Light-Heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara.
This set the stage for the showdown between Braehmer and Cleverly to finally become a reality on October 1st at the Jahnsportforum in Neubrandenburg, Germany. An argument could be made that Cleverly entered this fight as an underdog against Braehmer, who was riding a near eight year unbeaten streak and had won seventeen consecutive fights during that span. In fairness to Cleverly, with the exception of his stoppage loss at the hands of Sergey Kovalev, his losses to Tony Bellew and Andrzej Fonfara were decision losses that one might argue could have gone either way and on that basis this observer did not believe that this was a case of a former world champion, who may have been on the decline getting an opportunity to move himself back into position to challenge for a world championship.
The fight was fought at a high pace from the opening bell as Cleverly immediately attempted to apply pressure on Braehmer and made this a battle that was fought on the inside where it was theoretically to Cleverly’s advantage. Although Cleverly was able to get off to a good start in this fight and was the more active of the two, Braehmer appeared to be more accurate in slipping some of Cleverly’s offense and landing short, but effective counter punches.
After three rounds, this observer scored two rounds in favor of Braehmer due largely to how effectively he was able to execute his counter punches that seemed to land cleaner than the offense he put forth by Cleverly. It was clear early on however, that this was developing into what would be a close fight and the question that I had in my mind was how the high pace in which the battle was fought would affect both fighters and whether or not that would ultimately determine the outcome.
A challenge that can be present when it comes to close fights and in particular fights that are fought in close can be to determine which fighter is getting the better of the action. Cleverly was clearly the more active of the two fighters, but it was Braehmer who was getting the better of most of the exchanges. Although some might say that it is the fighter who lands the more effective punches that should win most rounds, that is not always the case and there are times where a fighter can win rounds based on overall activity. What was impressive in my eyes was not only Braehmer’s ability to land clean and effective counter punches, but also how solid he was defensively in a fight that was more or less fought in a phone booth where there was simply not much space to slip and evade punches.
As impressive as Braehmer was however, Cleverly was equally impressive in making Braehmer fight at the high pace he established early in the fight and being able to maintain that pace as the fight progressed. After five rounds, Braehmer was ahead three rounds to two on my unofficial scorecard. This was a bout that could have seen varying scorecards due in large part to the pace that the fight was fought and how both fighters were exchanging offense for nearly every second of every round.
A close and entertaining fight in the eyes of any impartial spectator would be halted shortly before the beginning of the seventh round as Braehmer retired from the fight giving Cleverly the victory by technical knockout. In all truth and honesty, the decision by Braehmer to stop the fight appeared to be very “Inconclusive” because even though he had taken his share of punishment throughout the fight, he was dishing out his share of punishment to Cleverly and he did not appear to be hurt or on the verge of being stopped in the fight. It was revealed after the fight that Braehmer had suffered a dislocated elbow. It is unclear as of this writing as to when the injury occurred and which elbow of Braehmer’s was injured.
It is logical however, that in injury like that could occur during the course of a long and grueling fight as this one was. Although Braehmer was very solid defensively throughout this fight, there were times over the course of the bout were he would lower his arms and tighten his defense of his body as Cleverly was able to land some effective punches to Braehmer’s body throughout the fight. It is a possibility that a punch from Cleverly that was blocked by Braehmer’s arms or those that may have landed on one of Braehmer’s elbows could cause an injury such as a dislocated elbow. It may also be possible that the injury occurred as Braehmer was throwing a punch.
The injury did nevertheless cause a somewhat “Inconclusive” ending to this fight and may leave some questioning whether or not there should be a rematch. Whether or not a rematch takes place in the future remains to be seen, but it would make sense that a second encounter between the two could happen both due to the nature in which this fight ended as well as a rematch clause that was in the contract for this fight.
As for what this could mean in the landscape of the Light-Heavyweight division, per his victory over Braehmer, Nathan Cleverly now becomes the number one contender in the WBA’s Light-Heavyweight ratings and takes over designation as having interim/regular champion status. This could theoretically lead to a possible rematch between Cleverly and undefeated unified WBO/IBF/WBA world champion Sergey Kovalev in the near future. Of course, it will depend on whether Kovalev can successfully defend his championship in his upcoming title defense against undefeated former Super-Middleweight world champion Andre Ward on November 19th in Las Vegas, NV.
Considering that there is a rematch clause for Juergen Braehmer as well as a history of fighters who hold interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s ratings throughout the entire sport having to wait a significant period of time while facing other opposition with that designation at stake before getting their opportunity to challenge the WBA world champion, this observer believes it is logical that a rematch between Cleverly and Braehmer could take place if Braehmer is healed from his injury and assuming that Braehmer wants the rematch. Although there was a clear winner determined in this fight per one fighter retiring on his stool, this observer believes that a rematch is warranted on the basis of how close the bout was between these two fighters. It is certainly understandable how Boxing fans and maybe even the fighters themselves could feel that there is unfinished business between Cleverly and Braehmer coming out of this fight. We will simply have to wait and see if there will be a second encounter between the two.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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