Cleverly targets big year
NATHAN Cleverly is ready to shrug off a year of disappointment, with mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi the first to feel his wrath.
WBO world light-heavyweight champion Cleverly hopes his mandatory title defence against Krasniqi will open the way for bigger fights in 2013.
Purse offers to stage the bout opened this week with the challenger’s promoters hoping to stage the meeting in Germany, probably in February.
Cleverly must take the fight or relinquish his title.
“I feel that adds a little fire to me and my training,” he said.
“I’ve got no alternative and I’m looking forward to it actually.”
Cleverly is hoping to fight Beibut Shumenov in a unification battle, but admits he also still has designs on veteran Bernard Hopkins, if he can overcome Krasniqi.
“I think if the fight is in Germany, where it is notorious that the fighters get home decisions, I feel I’ll really have to go out there and perform and put this guy to the sword,” he said.
“I’ve got to perform and impress against this guy and that’s going to set up the rest of 2013 then for the big unification fights. Everything will fall into place after this fight.
“If it all goes well with the Krasniqi fight, Shumanov is definitely in my sights and I would definitely like to fight the winner of Hopkins and Tavoris Cloud.”
Cleverly revealed he came close to fighting Hopkins, but doesn’t have regrets over 2012 despite fighting just twice.
“Negotiations (with Hopkins) were strong but because he doesn’t have a world title, we couldn’t get round the mandatory challenger,” he said.
“There’s an element of me that would like to have been more active and maybe have some bigger names on my record,” he admitted.
“But I look back on 2012 and I’m fairly happy; I’ve remained unbeaten and am still word champion.
"Overall I can’t complain and I can use this year as a foundation going into 2013 which I think will be much more active.
“It should be a massive year for me in terms of getting those unification fights and trying to prove I’m the number one light- heavyweight.”