Cleverly faces Uzelkov after Hopkins, Shumenov, Froch AND Bellew miss out
12:52 GMT, 3 September 2012
Nathan Cleverly will make the fourth defence of his WBO light-heavyweight title against Ukrainian Vyacheslav Uzelkov at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena on October 27.
The Welshman has been out of action since a unanimous points decision over American Tommy Karpency in February.
Cleverly, 25, faces Uzelkov after fights with Bernard Hopkins, Beibut Shumenov, Carl Froch and Tony Bellew all failed to materialise.
Back in action: Nathan Cleverly returns to the ring for the first time since February
Vyacheslav is currently ranked No 9 by the WBO, four by the WBA and seven by the IBF.
As a professional he has amassed a record of 27 wins from 29 fights with 16 stoppages – ten going inside the first three rounds – and is the current WBO Intercontinental champion.
He challenged current WBA world champion Shumenov for his title in July 2010, flooring him in the second round, although Shumenov recovered to win on points.
As a standout amateur he faced David Haye at the 2001 World Championships in Belfast, taking the future world heavyweight champion the distance in the semi-final to lose on points.
Cleverly is looking to put on sparkling performance against Uzelkov to make up for lost time after he had to withdraw from a title defence against Robert Krasniqi in April because of illness.
No go: Bernard Hopkins (left) turned down the chance to fight Cleverly
He said: 'I had a brilliant reception at the Motorpoint Arena in February which was my first fight in Wales for over four years and the fans came out to support me so it’s great to return again for another big fight night in the capital.
'Uzelkov’s ranked in the top ten of three of the major governing bodies and has already mixed it with Shumenov for the world title so I know he’ll be a hard defence for me. I’ve seen some of his fights already and he looks strong and come forward which will be perfect for me.
'Every defence of my title is vital as I build towards a unification fight so I can’t afford to slip up against Uzelkov.'
Promoter Frank Warren had originally agreed terms with Golden Boy Promotions for Bernard Hopkins to face Cleverly, but the American later withdrew and is unlikely to fight again this year.
Champ: Cleverly defends his WBO world title for the fourth time next month
Warren also offered the fight to Shumenov to put his WBA title on the line against Cleverly's WBO belt in a unification contest in Las Vegas, but his team could not get a TV date until next year. A further offer was made for Shumenov to come to the UK which he declined.
A huge purse was also put to IBF super-middleweight champion Froch to move up a weight division which he turned down, as did Bellew who rejected the offer of a rematch. The British champion fights Edison Miranda at London's Alexandra Palace on Saturday.
Warren said: 'It’s proved frustrating as we had Hopkins lined up and then he pulled out and Shumenov didn’t want to come over here to fight Cleverly, plus Froch and Bellew didn’t want to know.
'While we look to make these fights Cleverly has got to keep busy as he hasn’t fought since February and Ulezkov is a tough title defence for him.'