• Light-heavyweight

Starstruck Cleverly ready for Hawk

ESPN staff
November 7, 2012
Nathan Cleverly is getting used to life in the spotlight in Los Angeles © Getty Images

Nathan Cleverly is having to adjust to the star treatment in Hollywood after Mickey Rourke insisted on joining singer Tom Jones in leading the Welshman to the ring to face Shawn Hawk.

The WBO light-heavyweight champion is fighting in the United States for just the second time in his career, having won on the undercard for Joe Calzaghe's victory over Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas in 2008.

But the reception has been rather different as he returns as the main event at the Staples Center, with Rourke, a former pro boxer himself who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in The Wrestler, inviting the 25-year-old to his Los Angeles mansion ahead of the fight.

"I've spoken with Mickey three times this week and he said it will be a privilege to walk into the ring with me," Cleverly told the Sun.

"He has boxed and is a great fight fan -- just like Tom who will be walking into the ring with me.

"I wasn't expecting this kind of treatment. All of a sudden it has just happened and, having the respect of people like them, shows all my hard work has paid off. It does give that added stock to your appearance by having those kind of superstars around you."

The Welshman is refusing to let the attention go to his head, however, and is all too aware that he must quickly shake off any ring rust against American Hawk. Cleverly has not fought since easing to a points victory against Tommy Karpency back in February.

"I have been more inactive than I'd have liked. The circumstances have been difficult because Hawk came in after my original opponent pulled out and getting my US visa wasn't straightforward.

"At the same time I've had a good break and mentally freshened up and even though this build-up hasn't been ideal, I'm now just looking forward to the fight and showcasing myself.

"I'm really excited about fighting in the States again and there is an extra buzz in my training.

"It's a new challenge, a new experience and a chance to get US exposure. I feel I'm just around the corner from the super fights so this is a great opportunity.

"I'm focused because, regardless of the opponent, I've got to put on a good performance and remain unbeaten. That's the main motivation."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.