FORMER light-heavyweight world champion Nathan Cleverly insists he will be at his best when he enters “the lion’s den” against Andrzej Fonfara at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on October 16.

While the fight had been agreed for some time, it was recently announced the pair would meet in Chicago, where Poland’s Fonfara now lives.

Cleverly admits he did not see that decision coming, but is more than happy to make the trip.

“I knew Chicago was on the shortlist but I didn’t think it would be there, where Fonfara is based,” he told Boxing News.

“I’m back into the lion’s den but it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to, I’m bang up for it. I’m refocused and it’s an opportunity I can’t let slip.

“It’s going to be tough, no doubt about that, in America and in his backyard as such.”

Fonfara is coming off of a huge stoppage win over Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr in April, while Cleverly is working his way back into title contention after losses to Sergey Kovalev and Tony Bellew.

The fight is considered a risk for the 28-year-old Welshman, who reportedly had a shot at WBA ‘world’ light-heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer.

However Cleverly believes he will be at peak performance level come fight night, and hopes a win can land him a shot at the division’s leaders, Kovalev and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson.

“Fonfara’s a man in form, he’s on a good roll but it’s a challenge I need, a tough fight. I believe the fight will bring out the best in me,” he said.

“He’s a world class operator and it will make me raise my game and get back to where I belong, at world title level.

“A win would open many, many doors. I think I’d be in line for a world title shot against one of the elite fighters in the division.”