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Gravesend's Cheavon Clarke to fight Narek Manasyan in Paris for a place at the Tokyo Olympics

Cheavon Clarke insists he couldn’t care less about his opponent at next week’s crucial European Olympic qualifier.

Gravesend heavyweight Clarke travels to Paris with a crucial bout against Narek Manasyan the only thing standing between him and a Games debut in Tokyo.

Cheavon Clarke travels to Paris with a crucial bout against Narek Manasyan
Cheavon Clarke travels to Paris with a crucial bout against Narek Manasyan

Clarke, a 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, has had the last 12 months to study the Armenian after last year’s qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena was scrapped on the eve of lockdown.

But the Kent ace is not getting bogged down in the detail and says focusing on matters closer to home can catapult him to Japan this summer.

The defiant 30-year-old, whose likely Games debut in July will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+, said: “I worry about myself.

“I worry about nobody else – I bring what I have, I’m confident in what I can do and my style, so I let them do the worrying.

“Me and the coaches have spoken about it – there’s plenty of footage of him about, but you can plan all you want.

“When you get there, it’s a different story. As Mike Tyson said – it’s just a fight. You just go in and work to your advantages.

“They’ve had a year to look at your style too, so they can change their stuff.

“When you try and say ‘I want to do this, I want to do that,’ it doesn’t work. You always revert back to yourself, so I’ll work to my strengths in the first place and go from there.”

Clarke represented his native Jamaica at the 2014 Commonwealth Games but – after a brief stint as a lorry driver – switched allegiance to Great Britain ahead of the 2017 European Championships.

And he’s never looked back since, scooping silver in Kharkiv before glowing on the Gold Coast with a brilliant Commonwealth bronze the following year.

European Games bronze in Minsk came next and Clarke is now buzzing for a crack at the Olympic big time with just one more fight looming.

This summer’s Games will be like no other but Clarke, the world No.5 in his heavyweight division, hopes to thrive in the ‘most interesting’ Olympics ever.

He said: “It will be a good journey and I’m looking forward to getting there.

“It will be the most interesting Olympics ever – and I want to be a part of it. It’s exciting – I can’t tell you what it’s meant to feel like, and it’s come around so quickly.

“To only have one opportunity to qualify, and to then go to the Games with no crowds or anything, this has got to be the most special Olympics ever.”

The Games look set to be held with no overseas supporters and tech-savvy Clarke, who trains at Gravesham Amateur Boxing Club, added: “Technology will play such a big part in this Olympics.

“In previous Olympics it played a part – but now you’re solely reliant on it to speak to families and friends.

“I’ll definitely be checking in on messages from fans and supporters. It will be vital – and home support will be absolutely necessary.”

*Watch every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+

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