Nathan Cleverly says he would’ve beaten anyone on Saturday night – even former champion Juergen Braehmer.
The new WBO light-heavyweight champion breezed through his first defence with a fourth-round stoppage of late stand-in Aleksy Kuziemski at the O2 Arena.
Cleverly was far too good for the Pole, who had been drafted in on Thursday night, following Braehmer’s no-show on Wednesday and Tony Bellew’s failure to make the weight on Thursday.
He was named full world champion in between but said all along he would not feel like one until he had dispensed with Kuziemski.
And although he got wobbled by a left in the third, there was no doubt that Cleverly cemented his standing at the top of the light-heavyweight division, alongside the likes of Bernard Hopkins, also in action on Saturday night.
“It feels great,” he told Ringside.
“It hasn’t been an eays path for me. I’ve won the Commonwealth, British and European titles, I won a world-title eliminator and then the interim and I’ve finally won my world title.
“To be fair I wasn’t out of first gear. Three-and-a-half rounds in and you could see the state of his face – he had a cut eye and a busted nose.
I felt good in there, I felt strong. I think had Braehmer been in there on that night it would have been the same result.”
Cleverly admits he has not sat down and planned his next fight, although his trainer, father Vince, fancies Hopkins next.
The Executioner became boxing’s oldest world champion when he out-pointed former WBC boss Jean Pascal in a rematch at the weekend, but Cleverly Snr is convinced his son has the beating of one of the sport’s modern-day greats.
Bellew, who caused a stir and clearly rattled Cleverly at last week’s press conference and the Welshman admits both are an attractive option now he is a finally a world champion.
“Hopkins is the number one in the division, so he’s the long-term goal,” he said.
“He’s a great fighter and even to share a ring with a legend like that would be some achievement. It would be amazing.
“Bellew is a possibility. Obviously at the moment he’s got business to take care of with Ovill McKenzie (in a July rematch), but I am sure that will be a great fight for the British public down the line.”
There is also talk of an all Welsh-battle with former cruiserweight world champion Enzo Maccarinelli, who is now campaigning at light-heavy – and was ringside at the O2 Arena on Saturday.