24th May 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21:  Nathan Cleverly of ...
Enzo Maccarinelli has challenged fellow Welshman and newly-crowned WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (left), to an all Welsh boxing battle at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium, after deciding to continue his ring career.

But Cleverly’s plans don’t seem to include the former cruiserweight world champion, as he looks for the bigger names in the division, including the oldest world champion ever Bernard Hopkins, who defeated Canadian Jean Pascal in Montreal last weekend to secure the WBC and IBO light-heavyweight titles and at 46 years of age, became the oldest world champion in boxing history.

Maccarinelli 30, who was ringside at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday when Cleverly beat Aleksy Kuziemski to make the first defence of his newly acquired crown, has made countryman Cleverly his target and feels that Cleverly should stay well away from the impressive grandad of world boxing Hopkins and instead face him.

Hopkins, took unbeaten Joe Calzaghe the distance in 2008 before losing to a split decision in Las Vegas and Maccarinelli says Cleverly is nowhere near ready to step up to the level of ‘B’ Hop’.

“I don’t think Frank Warren would put him anywhere near Bernard Hopkins,” said Maccarinelli.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 18:  Enzo Maccarine...

“He’s 46 years of age but he’s still class. You saw the trouble he gave Joe. Some people questioned that decision but I thought Joe won very well.

“But Hopkins still caused trouble against the best fighter on the planet – Joe was the best fighter on the planet. Nathan is not the best fighter on the planet.”

Maccarinelli (right) is hoping to resurrect his career by dropping down a weight division from cruiserweight to light-heavyweight and says “I will be a world champion again, whether I fight Nathan or I don’t. But I’m going to give anyone on this planet a test, trust me.”

He had considered retiring after suffering four defeats in three years – the most recent being a devastating seventh-round knockout to Germany’s Alexander Frenkel in September 2010 when Maccarinelli suffered broken his jaw.

But after talks with promoter Warren, Maccarinelli he has decided to fight on and believes a clash with Cleverly would capture the imagination of the Welsh public.

“That’s definitely a fight that’s on the cards and what a big Welsh fight that would be hopefully at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium,” said Maccarinelli.

Cleverly 24, dismissed Maccarinellis calls for a fight and responded by saying he was targeting “the big American names” – But didn’t rule out a fight with him in the future, if Maccarinelli were earn his shot by getting into a mandatory position in the rankings.

“After a couple of defences I’m going for those big names,” said Cleverly, who is Wales’ 11th world boxing champion.

“I’m looking forward to a big homecoming and that’s going to be in the near future.

“As for Maccarinelli, I think he’s got a few issues to get sorted with a medical but if he gets himself into a mandatory position then it’s possible. But he’s got to come back from heavy losses.

“He’s got nothing to offer me at the moment. He’s got five defeats on his record and he needs me a lot more than I need him. He needs to start from the bottom and prove himself again if he wants to take me on.”

“We’re looking at bigger fights than Maccarinelli,” he said. “Hopkins, Dawson and Tavoris Cloud are all on our radar and I’d love to go over to America and prove myself there.”