• Nathan Cleverly v Robin Krasniqi

Cleverly expects to face Hopkins in the summer

ESPN staff
March 14, 2013
Nathan Cleverly is preparing with Bernard Hopkins in mind © PA Photos

Promotor Frank Warren is "very confident" Nathan Cleverly will face Bernard Hopkins in the summer - as long as he makes no mistake in his upcoming fight with Robin Krasniqi.

Cleverly, the WBO light-heavyweight world champion, is eager to face Hopkins - who, at 48, became the oldest every world champion when he claimed the IBF strap last weekend.

And Warren believes the biggest fight of the Welshman's burgeoning career is within reach, as long as he avoids a shock defeat against the mandatory challenger he will fight on April 20.

"This is a very important fight for Nathan Cleverly," Warren said. "Nathan can't afford to slip up because if he does, any potential fight against Bernard Hopkins will go out of the window.

"I had discussions last year with [promoter] Richard Schaefer from Golden Boy and we had agreed terms for Hopkins to fight Nathan in New York but unfortunately the WBO ordered the mandatory otherwise they would have stripped Nathan of the title.

"Now we have made this fight and if Nathan can come through it I'm very, very confident in the summer he will be facing Hopkins in the opposite corner."

Cleverly is respectful of Krasniqi, but admits that a tussle with Hopkins already excites him.

"He [Krasniqi] is a good fighter actually, he has won his last 38 fights and is fighting with a lot of confidence," said Cleverly. "He will do anything to win the world title so will give it 110 per cent so they are dangerous and risky fights.

"In an ideal world you would just go for the big fights but you have got to deal with these mandatory challengers and abide by the rules.

"We have got to do it - I have just got to perform like a world champion and get this guy done because he is in my way of the big fights, the elite fights, and I have just got to get him out of the way.

"Because [Hopkins] is IBF world champion now it is a blessing in disguise the fight didn't happen last year - it will be better now with my world title and Hopkins' [title], so we will get a unified world champion."

Where the fight would take place remains to be seen, but Warren - who has seen a few high-profile departures from his stable in recent weeks - is eager to bring the bout to the United Kingdom.

"I have always preferred the home advantage if we can get it but I have got no problems with Nathan fighting in the States because I do think Nathan will beat him - I think he has the style to beat him and all the tools to beat him," Warren said.

"We are looking past Krasniqi, who is no slouch himself. It is a tough fight, but if Nathan comes through that, wherever it has to be it will be.

"In an ideal world I would like to have it at the Millennium Stadium because we are used to putting on big shows."

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