17th April 2012

Nathan Cleverly
World Champion Nathan Cleverly has been forced to withdraw from his WBO Light-Heavyweight title defence against Robin Krasniqi due to a viral infection.

The unbeaten Welsh star was scheduled to face Kosovan Krasniqi on Saturday 28th April at the Royal Albert Hall in London, but has been unable to train for his fourth title defence.

Hatfield’s Olympic star Billy Joe Saunders, who was chief support on the card, will now replace Cleverly and headline the first night of professional championship boxing to be held at the world famous venue in nearly 13 years when he takes on Tony Hill for the Vacant English Middleweight title.

Joint top of the bill on the show will see Chislehurst’s Sam Webb in a final eliminator for the British Light-Middleweight Championship against Manchester’s hard-hitting Matthew Hall.

A devastated Cleverly said, “I’ve been unable to train because I’ve been laid up in bed with a viral infection and there’s not enough time to make up what I’ve missed in training to make sure I’m fully fit,”

“I’ve taken the advice of my doctor and been told to fully rest before attempting to start training again,”

“I’m really disappointed because I was looking forward to being the first fighter to bring boxing back to the Royal Albert Hall in over a decade and the first of the century,”

“It was a big night for me as Hopkins was facing Dawson on the same night and I was looking to do a good job on Krasniqi to get a fight with the winner,”

“I’m sorry for my fans, but I’m happy that the show will go on and a great talent like Billy Joe Saunders will now be topping the card along with Sam Webb and Matthew Hall which looks like a cracking fight.” 

Saunders, the Southern Area Middleweight champion, said, “This is a great chance for me to shine on the show and show my potential,”

“I’m Britain’s next star in the making and to now headline the Royal Albert Hall is dream come true for me and I will put on a fight to remember against Hill.”

Promoter Frank Warren added, “It’s such a shame that Cleverly has been hit with a viral infection and at a crucial time in his training and career,”

“He is unable to fight and he now needs to have a good rest, get himself healthy and resume training before we look to reschedule his title defence,”

“However, Billy Joe Saunders, who is one of the best young talents in Britain right now, is hungry and ready to prove that he is next big thing and this is the perfect occasion for him to do this.”

The rest of the card features some of the best talent in Britain including unbeaten welterweight Bradley Skeete; hard-hitting super-middleweight Frank Buglioni, light-welterweight Bradley Saunders; welterweights Freddie Turner and Dean Byrne. 

Photo courtesy of Al “Big Al” Stevenson.
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