Bellew blasts Cleverly after Krasniqi bout at Royal Albert Hall is confirmed
10:48 GMT, 30 March 2012
Nathan Cleverly’s showdown with Robin Krasniqi at the Royal Albert Hall has been given the go-ahead – but the Welsh world champion was immediately criticised by one of his previous opponents.
The reigning WBO light-heavyweight title holder will make his fourth defence at the iconic London venue on April 28 after an agreement was reached with the governing body.
The WBO had previously insisted that Cleverly face mandatory challenger Dmitry Sukhotsky.
Sharp: Nathan Cleverly will headline boxing's return to the Royal Albert Hall
Cleverly said, ‘I’m glad it’s all sorted out and I can now fully focus on Krasniqi for my title defence. I wasn’t worried about it as I’ve faced and dealt with bigger problems in the past when I faced Aleksy Kuziemski at 48 hours’ notice when Juergen Braehmer pulled out so this was no trouble in comparison.
‘This is a hard test for me, he’s had 39 fights with only two early points losses and hasn’t been stopped before so I’m preparing for the hard twelve rounds, unless he goes early. I need to win this fight in style as I want Hopkins in Wales.’
But shortly after the announcement, Tony Bellew, who Cleverly defeated in Liverpool last October, slammed the level of opponents chosen for the champion.
Time for tea: Cleverly makes the fourth defence of his world title
Following the majority verdict against his fellow Brit, Cleverly cruised to a unanimous victory over American Tommy Karpency last month.
And Bellew, who is preparing for his British light-heavyweight title fight with Danny McIntosh on April 13, said: ‘I’m the one coming off the loss, but I’m fighting a better opponent than him.
‘If I’d won the Cleverly fight, I would not have been fighting Tommy Karpency. Everybody knows that I would have been thrust into a rematch and I would have been happy with that, so why not one for me
‘But I don’t want to fight the Tommy Karpency’s of this world, he’s a tough guy and I’ve got lots of respect for that, but I wouldn’t want to kill myself in training camps to beat some guy up who is just going to put his hands in front of his head for 12 rounds.
Hard fought: Tony Bellew (left) came close to upsetting Cleverly
‘I thought I won the fight – it was razor tight and could have gone either way. I did more than him, landed the harder punches and the cleaner punches and had better technique too. So I believe I won it and I’ll take that to the grave with me. But regardless of that, I was told from day one that if it was a close fight in any way we would have an immediate rematch.
‘As you’ve seen and heard that’s not happening, it’s Bernard Hopkins this and Bernard Hopkins that, and at the end of the day, he’s not on his level in my opinion. I feel a mistreated but you’ve got to get on with things and I don’t need Nathan Cleverly to progress in my career, and he’ll need me before I need him.’