Cleverly-Makabu set for Feb. 1

Updated: December 28, 2013, 12:16 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Former light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly of Wales will make his cruiserweight debut against Ilunga "Junior" Makabu of South Africa on Feb. 1, Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman announced on Friday.

The scheduled 10-round bout will take place at the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monte Carlo, Monaco, on the undercard of the show being headlined by middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin (28-0, 25 KOs) defending his belt against Osumanu Adama (22-3, 16 KOs).

The 26-year-old Cleverly (26-1, 12 KOs) made five successful defenses of his light heavyweight world title before Sergey Kovalev went to Wales and routed him in a fourth-round knockout loss on Aug. 17. When Cleverly was getting set for his return, he announced that he would move up to the 200-pound cruiserweight division.

Cleverly's cruiserweight debut was initially scheduled for Nov. 30 in London against Daniel Ammann (29-5-1, 6 KOs) of Australia for the vacant Commonwealth title. However, Cleverly hurt his back and withdrew the week before the bout.

The fight had been rescheduled for a card on Nov. 15 in London, but then Cleverly was moved to the Monte Carlo card to face Makabu, who had originally been scheduled to fight Pawel Kolodziej (33-0, 18 KOs) of Poland. Kolodziej, however, withdrew for unspecified reasons.

"I'm very happy about the change," Berman said. "Cleverly is a bigger name by far and has been in with outstanding boxers. The U.K. has a great heritage of producing top cruiserweights, and Cleverly is another in this long line. I expect the fight against Makabu will be explosive."

Makabu (15-1, 14 KOs), 25, of Congo, is a big puncher coming off a fifth-round knockout of fringe contender Eric Fields on Aug. 31 in South Africa. Makabu will be fighting in Monte Carlo for the third time in his last four bouts.

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