Nathan Cleverly to face Tommy Karpency in Cardiff

Nathan Cleverly
Nathan Cleverly is undefeated in 23 fights since his 2005 professional debut

Nathan Cleverly is to defend his WBO light heavyweight title against Tommy Karpency on his Welsh 'homecoming' on 25 February.

Cleverly's fight with the 25-year-old American in Cardiff will be the first time that he has defended his WBO title in his native Wales.

Cleverly's promoter Frank Warren gave WBA champ Beibut Shumenov and WBC champ Bernard Hopkins a unification shot.

But Shumenov "would not be ready" and Hopkins has his Chad Dawson rematchexternal-link.

"Karpency looks like a tough fighter," said Cleverly.

"He took Karo Murat the distance last year and Murat gave me a hard fight."

Having defeated Aleksy Kuziemski and Tony Bellew, the 24-year-old Welshman's third title defence at the Motorpoint Arena will be his first fight in Wales since beating Joey Vegas on points in November 2007.

That was on the undercard of Joe Calzaghe's win over Mikkel Kessler and, since then, Cleverly has fought in London, Liverpool, Las Vegas and Swindon - but he is now looking forward to his sixth bout in the Welsh capital.

"This is my first fight in Cardiff for a long time," said Cleverly. "I'm looking forward to putting on a good show for my fans against Karpency.

"My return has created a big interest in Wales and it's going to be a fantastic welcome home on 25 February at the Motorpoint Arena.

"I've trained over Christmas and I'm in great shape already and we're still over seven weeks away from the fight, so I'll be spot on come fight night.

"I've got big plans for this year that I hope will include a unification fight, so I've got to keep busy and beat Karpency in style."

The one-time WBO Inter-Continental light heavyweight title challenger Karpency, ranked number 11 by the World Boxing Association, has 21 wins from 24 fights, including 14 knock-outs.

But the Pennsylvania fighter lost to Murat for the WBO inter-continental light heavyweight belt in May 2010 and has fought just once since, a first round knockout of journeyman Andre Hemphill in February 2011.

Warren confirmed his offer to Shumenov and American great Hopkins for a clash with Cleverly in a press release issued on Tuesday.

"An offer went to WBA title-holder Beibut Shumenov to face Cleverly," said the Warren statement. "But he said he would not be ready in time, although it could happen later this year.

"WBC champion Bernard Hopkins was also sent an offer, but Hopkins has a forthcoming rematch with Chad Dawson."

The Welshman insists that a clash with one of the division's "big boys" will not happen until the end of 2012.

"Hopefully I'll get to the big unification fights towards the end of 2012 against the likes of Hopkins and Dawson," added Cleverly. "That's my goal. They are massive names in the division."