• Light-heavyweight

Cleverly still hopeful of Kovalev bout

ESPN staff
June 18, 2013
Nathan Cleverly has successfully defended his WBO light-heavyweight title five times © AP

Nathan Cleverly will return to the ring and defend his WBO light-heavyweight title for a sixth time on August 17 in Cardiff, although his opponent is yet to be named.

The Welshman was awaiting confirmation on a bout with IBF mandatory challenger Sergey Kovalev, before the organisation announced that champion Bernard Hopkins must begin discussions immediately to defend his belt against the Russian, seriously denting Cleverly's chances of facing either fighter.

Despite the setback, unbeaten Cleverly, who defeated Robin Krasniqi by a unanimous decision in his last defence at Wembley Arena in April, revealed he still wishes to touch gloves with Kovalev.

"It's a fight that would make my name in America," Cleverly said. "I've seen all the emails and from our side, everything is sorted and the deal is done. Maybe he wants to fight Bernard Hopkins instead. We won't wait forever, we don't need him.

"At the end of the day I'm 26 and I've got time on my side. I'm onto my sixth defence. I'm making progress. People ask who I've fought - I'm 26. Judge me in four years time.

"I mentioned Kovalev on Twitter yesterday and people responded by saying I was fighting another taxi driver. That's the mindset of some of these morons who know nothing. Watch him fight and then tell me he's a taxi driver.

"I'm on my way to dominating this division. It will happen."

Cleverly recently issued a challenge to British compatriot Carl Froch, offering to drop down the weight divisions, to which the 'Cobra' reportedly took less than 30 minutes to reject according to promoter Frank Warren.

"I was prepared to come down from light-heavyweight to make it happen," Cleverly said. "I've got respect for his achievements but for him to say I'm not worthy is ridiculous."

Warren, however, is still hopeful that a bout with the unbeaten Kovalev can be made, saying: "We want this fight and for Nathan, it will be like Jeff Lacy was for Joe Calzaghe."

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