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Calzaghe has high hopes for Cleverly


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Joe Calzaghe is convinced that 2011 will be the year that his Welsh protege Nathan Cleverly takes the world by storm.


Cleverly looks set to have his first world title shot within a few months after the WBO ordered German Jurgen Braehmer to set up a fight with the 23-year-old for his light-heavyweight title.


Calzaghe, who ended his career in 2009 with a glittering record of 46 wins from 46 fights, has watched Cleverly's progress closely since he trained with the Cefn Forest fighter as a youngster.


Cleverly fought on Calzaghe's under card in his victory over Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas in 2008 and was also on the bill in the Welshman's super middleweight unification fight against Mikkel Kessler in Denmark the previous year.


Last year Cleverly graduated from Cardiff University with a maths degree before picking up the WBO 'interim' light-heavyweight title - albeit thanks to an unconvincing display which ended in a points victory.


Calzaghe now has high hopes for Cleverly in 2011 and thinks it will only be a matter of time before he claims his first world title.


"I really fancy him to win in style given the opportunity to win a world title,'' said Calzaghe, who was speaking at a screening of The Fighter in London.


"I have been sparring with him for a couple of years. It was a great experience for him and it's so helpful when you have boxed on a world-title bill, when you've fought on my undercard, when you've fought at the Millennium Stadium and in Vegas.


"You can't buy that kind of experience so I know he will blend straight in when he's fighting for a world title because he's been in the ring with the best and he has nothing to be over-awed by.''


The points victory over Mohammedi in Liverpool was disappointing for Cleverly given that he had been expected to knock out the Frenchman, who was a late replacement for the injured Alejandro Lakatos.


Cleverly trained at Calzaghe's stable in south Wales with the fighter's father, Enzo, during his progression through the youth ranks.


The 38-year-old is not concerned about the laboured victory over Mohammedi and has backed the youngster to beat Braehmer in a fight which could take place at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium later this year.


"I went for a run with Nathan recently. That brought back good memories for me because I used to run with him all the time," Calzaghe said.


"He lives about two miles where I'm from so whenever I'm back in Wales I give him a shout and we train. He was a bit disappointed with his last performance but I told him: 'All that matters is a win'.


"You can't always win great as I have shown. I have been in quite a lot of stinkers over my time.


"He came out with a win and I'm sure he will be 100 per cent focused and will win a title within a few months."


::The Fighter, a film about the life of former world light-welterweight champion Micky Ward, is released at cinemas on February 2 Or Available now in the Budweiser Boxing LOYAL MEMBERS SECTION.




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