• Light-heavyweight

Cleverly: Kovalev bout will be 'thunder and lightning'

ESPN staff
June 21, 2013
Nathan Cleverly confirmed the fight with Sergey Kovalev via his Twitter account © PA Photos

Nathan Cleverly has confirmed he will defend his WBO light-heavyweight title against the unbeaten Sergey Kovalev at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena on August 17.

The Welshman was reportedly in negotiations to fight Kovalev before they were put on hold following the IBF's order that Bernard Hopkins would have to defend his title against the Russian.

Hopkins was due to defend his belt against original mandatory challenger Karo Murat in New York on July 13, but the German was denied a visa by the US Department of Homeland Security and looked set for a lengthy appeal process - leaving promoters Golden Boy with no chance but to cancel the event.

Kovalev was then elevated to replace Murat as mandatory challenger, putting the negotiations of a bout with Cleverly at risk before the IBF ordered Hopkins to defend his title. However, Murat has now been granted a visa and looks set to regain his position as mandatory challenger.

"I'm over the moon that Kovalev has confirmed that he's fighting me," said Cleverly. "I've wanted Kovalev all along and I spoke to my promoter Frank Warren and said that this is the guy I want to fight.

"He's making big waves in America and he's a fighter that people know. His knockouts are frightening to watch and give you a neck mohican, but that's when I perform to my best, when the adrenalin is flowing and the odds are stacked against me.

"This will be Kovalev's thunder against my lightening and he is going to get a serious shock. The viewers in the UK are going to see something special on BoxNation and I'm delighted that the fight will be in America on HBO, the market that I'm looking to conquer next."

Cleverly, who has successfully defended his WBO title five times, took to his Twitter account to break the news, describing the fight as "explosive".

Kathy Duva of Main Events, who promote Kovalev, also confirmed the South Wales bout had been agreed, telling Boxingscene.com: "We have a fight, everything is done."

On Tuesday, Cleverly announced he would be fighting on August 17 but could not confirm the opponent following the IBF's decision.

Cleverly, 26, recently called out unified super-middleweight champion Carl Froch, stating that he would drop down the weight divisions to face the 'Cobra'. The Cefn Fforest fighter defeated Robin Krasniqi by unanimous decision in his last outing in April.

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