As the world prepares for Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor, let’s take a break from the spectacle and divert our attention to the undercard, which features Baltimore’s own Gervonta “Tank” Davis (18-0, 17 KOs) vs. Francisco Fonseca (19-0-1, 13 KOs) and Badou Jack (21-1-2, 12 KOs) vs. Nathan Cleverly (30-3-0, 16 KOs) for the WBA Super Heavyweight Title.
Davis is an absolute beast and is being touted as the heir apparent to Mayweather’s throne. The 22-year-old is listed as a -3500 favorite and there isn’t any real value in the bout, but even so it’s worth watching the young man work. Even if the main event disappoints, Davis figures to give fans an exciting knockout against Fonseca.
Prior to Davis vs. Fonseca, Jack and Cleverly will tango and there’s something in this one. Let’s take a look.
Badou Jack (-355) vs. Nathan Cleverly (+290)
Over 10.5 rounds: -300
Under 10.5 rounds: +240
Jack (21-1-2, 12 KOs) is coming off of a controversial draw as an underdog against James “Chunky” DeGale (23-1-1, 14 KOs) in January. Most people will tell you that Jack should have won that fight.
Cleverly (30-3-0, 16 KOs) scored an upset over Juergen Braehmer, who was forced to quit with an arm injury, in his last bout last October. Prior to that the Welshman has lost three of his six seven bouts. Each one of his losses came against quality opposition, including Sergey Kovalev, and Jack represents another tough opponent for ‘Clev.’
Jack is a 33-year-old Stockholm native and, like Davis, is part of the Mayweather stable. He is jumping up from super middleweight to light heavyweight and Cleverly will serve as the gatekeeper. As impressive as “The Ripper” looked in his draw with DeGale, he was coming off a series of uninspiring results, including a shocking first-round TKO loss against Derek Edwards, a few questionable decisions that went his way and a draw-turned-disqualification win over Lucian Bute after the latter tested positive for a banned substance.
The question is whether or not the DeGale fight represented a step forward from Jack or if it was just a one-off performance. His decision to move up in weight and leave an up-and-down career as a super-middleweight sends the right signal.
This fight is going to come down to how well Jack controls the distance against the offensive-inclined Cleverly. ‘The Ripper’ is a solid all-around fighter who won’t blow you away with power or athleticism, but if he uses his jab to keep Cleverly from coming in, he should put himself in good position to win the fight after the first six or seven rounds.
Cleverly is a good combination fighter and its not out of the question for him to turn out the lights on Jack here, but he’s not a great defensive fighter and could be picked apart by the technically sound Swede. If the Welshman falls too far behind, he will press and search for the KO and leave himself vulnerable to be slept, himself.
The value here is with the under at those odds.
[Photo: Noah K. Murray, USA Today]