Nathan Cleverly targets Bernard Hopkins unification fight

 

Nathan Cleverly says he is ready to step up a level in his career and test his credentials by unifying the light-heavyweight division.

Cleverly made a fifth defence of his WBO title with a landslide points win over Robin Krasniqi at Wembley Arena.

The 26-year-old Welshman now has IBF champion Bernard Hopkins or WBA champion Beibut Shumenov in his sights.

"I want fights that test me and that's the elite fights now - Hopkins and those guys," he said.

"They're technically brilliant and they can answer my question - am I an elite level boxer or am I just a world champion?

Evergreen Bernard Hopkins

Bernard Hopkins
  • Hopkins beat Tavoris Cloud to break his own record as the oldest world champion in boxing history, aged 48
  • Cleverly was 20 months old when Hopkins made his professional debut in 1988

"I'm looking forward to finding out. I'm still learning but I'm winning quite well now."

Hopkins, the 48-year-old IBF light-heavyweight champion, has previously said he would be interested in a unification fight with Cleverly this summer.

Cleverly registered his 26th victory by outclassing Krasniqi, who refused to go down despite taking some heavy blows and was awarded only one round by one of the three judges.

"He was hurt a lot of times, but wasn't quite ready to go so I had to go back to Plan A and box," Cleverly said.

"I felt good in there and I'm pleased with the performance, it was a nice boxing display. He was tough.

"At this level it's important to break your opponents down because these are world level fighters, 12-round fighters who are very tough, so you can't be gung-ho and reckless."

Cleverly fought only four times in 2011 and 2012 and wants to be busier.

"I think 2013 is a chance now to stay active and push for the big fights," Cleverly added.

"I'll keep active, keep the rust away and try and unify this light-heavyweight division. 2013 could be the year to do that. Next could be America in July."