What Next for Nathan Cleverly?
The press conference to announce WBO light-heavyweight world champion Nathan Cleverly’s next fight, was cancelled yesterday after proposed opponent Sergey Kovalev was offered a world title fight with IBF champion Bernard Hopkins, even though the contract to face Cleverly was apparently signed.
Hopkins, 48, the oldest world champion in boxing history recently had his July 13 fight against Karo Murat cancelled due to the German having visa issues entering the States, and was himself seeking an opponent. It could have been a perfect time for Cleverly to get the Hopkins fight, but it now looks like the big punching Kovalev will get his shot.
Cleverly, 26, would have hoped a win over Kovalev would have secured him a fight with ring legend Hopkins, the Philadelphian who still defies father time and remains at the top of the light-heavyweight division, and the man Cleverly craves a fight with to secure his unification dreams more than any.
The Cefn Fforest boxer has been frustrated that the big fights have has yet failed to materialise and this latest setback will add to it. He was due to make a mandatory defence of his WBO title against the German challenger Jüergen Bräehmer next, but Braemher is now signed to face Stefano Abatangelo in August now so it doesn’t look like happening in the near future now anyway, but Cleverly has already suggested that he doesn’t believe Bräehmer wants it!
“Although I’m due to face Bräehmer I don’t think he really wants to fight me,” Cleverly has said. “I want fights that test me. And that’s the elite fights now – Hopkins and those guys.
“Maybe (WBA light-heavyweight champion) Beibut Shumenov will be a good option and the winner maybe gets Hopkins.
“If he (Hopkins) doesn’t want to come out of America I will make sure I go there and take that belt off him.”
Another interesting option for Cleverly to consider is a fight against the new WBC champion, 35 year old Haitian born Canadian Adonis Stevenson who stepped up to light-heavyweight last weekend and needed just 76 seconds to KO ‘Bad Chad’ Dawson over in Montreal, taking his belt. Cleverly’s promoter Frank Warren in his column this week, called out Stevenson to take a unification fight with his boxer.
“Nathan Cleverly is willing to accommodate him (Stevenson) in a unification spat on either side of the Atlantic, any time Stevenson fancies it.” said Warren.
I think mandatory challenger for Stevenson’s WBC title Liverpool’s Tony Bellew might have something to say about that though, ‘The Bomber’ is lined up next as Stevenson’s first defence of his new title.
Russian Kovalev impressed again last Friday in America when he knocked out the capable Cornelius White in three rounds and afterwards he called out the veteran Hopkins. And It looks like he may have got his wish. The fight against White was an eliminator for Hopkins’ title and the IBF have ordered the champion to defend against the Russian, who is considered the most dangerous light-heavyweight in the world, next.
There are few options for Cleverly, and now it looks like the fight with Hopkins is going to have to wait again.