By Jack Sumner @Jack_Sumner_
On a huge weekend of boxing that sees two televised cards from the Western side of the Atlantic, London hosts a big bill of it’s own on Saturday night with world title action from Wembley Arena.
WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverley (25-0, 12 KO) makes the fifth defence of his world crown against mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi (39-2, 15 KO), after originally being scheduled to fight the German-based Serbian on Frank Warren’s ill-fated Rule Britannia show on March 16th.
In fact, the 25-year-old Welshman was first scheduled to meet Krasniqi at the Royal Albert Hall in April of last year, before illness sidelined the champion and sent him on a different path, to defeat American Shawn Hawk on the Mares-Moreno undercard in Los Angeles in November.
In the meantime, Krasniqi retained his mandatory position with two knockout wins on German soil and after seeing a second shot at Cleverley fall through when the March 16th bill was cancelled, finally got the fight he’d been waiting for with the re-arranged date.
It is however not the fight that Nathan Cleverley has been waiting for with an eye on unification bouts for well over a year now, but as the big names continue to elude him there’s little more he can do than fulfil his mandatory obligations and retain his title. Keep winning and sooner or later, your name becomes unavoidable. Cleverley may be targeting the likes of Bernard Hopkins, but can’t afford to overlook Krasniqi.
He may be a little known entity, but continuing to keep winning is something that Krasniqi has been doing for some time. The two defeats on his slate came in his first three fights and since his last reverse he has now won thirty-eight straight, stopping his last four opponents since winning the European title in late 2011. A 41-fight veteran despite only being a year old older than Cleverly, the 26-year-old is also the more experienced of the two inside a professional ring. When you delve into his record however, you get a true picture of how valuable his experience will be.
Krasniqi’s impressive looking record is padded to say the least, with the Serbian’s biggest win a fourth round knockout over then unbeaten Serdar Sahin. Despite receiving plenty of criticism for the opposition that he has faced, Cleverley’s resume does include the stoppage of Karo Murat and a tight decision over Tony Bellew, both of whom have progressed in their own careers since and will look to win world titles in 2013.
Should Cleverley retain his title on Saturday as expected, his next defence could well come against former titleholder Juergen Braehmer. If Clev can come through that test in style, it shouldn’t be long before he gets the chance to headline shows on the other side of the Atlantic.