by Paul Magno
The members of The Boxing Tribune Blue Corner (BTBC) decided to make 2010 personal by selecting a house fighter to follow in each weight class.
The BTBC House Fighter, as voted by the members of the community, is the fighter that most represents our community through either style, attitude or ability.
To avoid the label of front-runner, The BTBC has limited their choices for house fighter to only those who have yet to receive a world title shot.
Good luck to those fighters selected for this honor…the full support of boxing’s pound for pound best fan forum is behind you every step of the way. Make us proud!
The votes have been tabulated for our first three divisions and here are the winners:
BTBC Heavyweight House Fighter
Given the current state of the heavyweight division, The BTBC decided to throw their support behind one of the young lions of the weight class.
James, the 2007 National Golden Glove Super Heavyweight Champion, compiled an impressive amateur record of 83-11, winning four New England Golden Gloves Championships in the process.
In March 2008, James turned professional with Joe DeGuardia’s StarBoxing, but frustrated by an inability to land bouts, he bought himself out of his contract to become a free agent.
Hall-of-fame trainer Emmanuel Steward invited James to help Wladmir Klitschko prepare for his upcoming contest against Tony Thompson. The 6ft 5 southpaw impressed Steward with his athleticism, and was offered the opportunity to debut on the undercard. He quickly found his feet in the pro game, outpointing Timo Schwarm over four one-sided rounds.
Vitali Klitschko invited him to spar in preparation for Vitali’s first defense of the WBC title against Juan Carlos Gomez. He was offered another spot on the undercard for his services, this time blitzing Taras Varva in the first round.
He’s been made chief sparring partner for Wladmir Klitschko, which is surely a positive sign if he can be competitive with Wladmir at this early stage of his career.
Shaped by direct and indirect lessons from high profile boxing minds such as Al Mitchell, Emmanuel Steward, Chris Byrd and the Klitschko Brothers, many insiders see Nate James as a “can’t miss” prospect…The BTBC sees him as their house fighter.
Do us proud, Nate!
BTBC Cruiserweight House Fighter
At this point, the voting is too close to call…this position will be vacant until we have a decisive winner.
BTBC Light Heavyweight House Fighter
After an amateur record of 32-4, Nathan ‘Clever Boy’ Cleverly started his pro career fighting four rounders on Joe Calzaghe undercards. It didn’t take long for him to be fast tracked into his first meaningful bout.
Cleverly came up against an undefeated Tony Quigley, a former MMA fighter that had a massive Scouser following. With Cleverly receiving abuse from every corner of the stands for his nationality, he stunned everyone by stopping Quigley in the fifth round.
He was promoted to chief sparring partner for Joe Calzaghe, and fought over 400 rounds with the undefeated champion. He took his sparring experience as he decided to permanently campaign at light heavyweight and struggled in his first televised fight against Joey Vegas, but still managed to outpoint the orthodox opponent.
Cleverly then travelled with Team Calzaghe to Las Vegas, where he shutout Antonio Barker over eight rounds in a showy performance that earned high praise from the HBO broadcasting team.
In September 2008, Cleverly decided to leave Enzo Calzaghe’s stable to team up with his father, Vince. Cleverly had also been torn between joining Calzaghe Promotions or re-signing with Sports Network, but Cleverly made a wise call and stayed with Frank Warren.
The decision paid off as he was chosen to replace Dean Francis on two weeks notice to fight Tony Oakey for the vacant commonwealth title. In a fast fight, Cleverly decided to mix it up early on before outboxing the older Oakey for the final half of the fight, winning by comprehensive scores of 119-110, 117-111 and 116-112.
Still determined to complete his math degree at Cardiff University, he managed to balance studying and training to maintain his perfect record. Cleverly graduates this Summer and is hoping for an unrealistic double, winning a world title to go with his graduation.
Three defenses later, all coming by early stoppage, Cleverly challenged unbeaten Danny McIntosh for the British crown. Cleverly unexpectedly brawled with the stronger McIntosh, flooring him twice in the second round and once in the third. Cleverly failed to close the show and allowed McIntosh to creep back into contention. The referee saved the brave McIntosh in the seventh following a barrage of punches teed off by The Welshman.
He was edged out by Kell Brook for the prestigious Boxing Writers Club young boxer of the year award by one vote in the closest vote in history of the award.
His next opponent was spoiler Courtney Fry, a counter punching boxer with amateur pedigree. Cleverly dominated from the opening bell, but struggled to deal with Fry staying on the ropes until a perfect one-two rattled Fry in the eighth to force the stoppage.
‘Clever Boy’ will face his toughest test to date, against Antonio Brancalion in the Italian’s backyard. Can our light heavyweight house fighter capture the vacant European title on January 27?