Boxing: Cleverly targets Hopkins super-fight at Millennium Stadium
by Phil Blanche, Western Mail
Cleverly defends his WBO light-heavyweight title on February 25 when he ends his four-year absence from a Welsh ring in Cardiff.
The unbeaten 24-year-old is still waiting to discover the identity of his Motorpoint Arena opponent, but Cleverly’s trainer-father Vince has revealed talks are already taking place with the Hopkins camp.
Hopkins – who lost a split decision to Joe Calzaghe in Las Vegas in April 2008 – has been ordered by the World Boxing Council to fight Chad Dawson in a mandatory rematch after their first meeting in October was ruled no contest after the Philadelphian veteran suffered a shoulder injury.
But Hopkins, who remains the WBC light-heavyweight champion and the oldest champion in boxing history (he turns 47 on January 15), and Dawson were given a clause that opens the door to possible interim fights.
Hall of Famer Hopkins says he will be back to 100 per cent by March, and the Cleverly camp are confident the fight can go ahead in the summer.
“2011 was absolutely brilliant, everything went to plan and let’s hope 2012 can be even better,” said Vince Cleverly.
“We need to get through February 25 and then we can hopefully take on Bernard Hopkins in the summer.
“There are talks going on and he’s coming around to taking on the fight.
“2012 will be Hopkins’ last year. He can’t keep going and there were signs of that in the Dawson fight.
“He knew his body wasn’t right, he had to find a way out and Dawson gave him one.
“If that doesn't come off we have Carl Froch and there’s also possibly Jean Pascal, Tavoris Cloud and Chad Dawson.
“Pascal, Hopkins, Dawson and Cloud all know Nathan Cleverly is a big-money fight and that will start drawing them in.
“It would brilliant, it would sell out the Millennium Stadium.”
But Cleverly senior revealed that his personal preference would be for a Battle of Britain showdown with Froch, who recently lost his version of the super-middleweight title to Californian stylist Andre Ward.
Froch, 34, would prefer a fight in his home city Nottingham after travelling the world in the super-middleweight ‘Super Six’ tournament.
But if Cleverly wanted to avoid Nottingham – and he was happy enough to meet Tony Bellew in his own Liverpool backyard – then Birmingham or London could also stage what would be a huge domestic dust-up.
“The one I want is Froch, he’s current and it would be a chance to get a world title back,” said Vince Cleverly.
“He’s lost to Mikkel Kessler, he’s lost to Andre Ward, so what has Lucian Bute got to gain from fighting Froch?
“It’s a big money fight for the both of them and one the British public would love.
“There’s another 30 to 40 per cent improvement to come from Nathan.
“He’s come on a bomb since the Bellew fight. He will be a true light-heavyweight in the next year.
“Barring injuries, Nathan will unify the division.”
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