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Cleverly: Hopkins, Perfect Guy To Prove That I'm Elite

Nathan Cleverly insists the negativity surrounding his reign as WBO light-heavyweight champion has fuelled his determination to eventually become the ruler of the division.

Cleverly will be making the fifth defence of his world title when he meets Germany based Kosovan Robin Krasniqi - a mandatory challenger - at Wembley Arena on Saturday night.

Inactivity caused by politics and postponements limited the 26-year-old from Cefn Forest, Wales, to only four fights in 2011 and 2012 and have tested his loyalty to promoter Frank Warren.

The standard of his opposition has also been seized upon by critics with recent conquests Aleksy Kuziemski, Tommy Karpency and Shawn Hawk failing to enhance his profile.

Cleverly believes his dignified response to the likes of former victim Tony Bellew, who has been the most outspoken of the path his rival's career has taken, sets an example to other fighters in a similar position.

"There have been quite a few cynics out there. That's part of being a champion," he said.

"You're there to be targeted and put down. I enjoy it in a way because that cynical stuff can inspire you to achieve your goals.

"When you need motivation sometimes you can look to that for inspiration, to prove the doubters wrong, keep smiling and keep winning.

"That's what I'm trying to do and at the same time showing other fighters who have been targeted how to deal with it.

"I rarely, if ever, go on boxing websites, because I'm too much in the zone concentrating on my own career rather than what people are saying.

"On Twitter you get the odd negative comment. But I use that to inspire me. You have to take the rough with the smooth as a world champion. I enjoy it."

Cleverly is aware that he must face bigger names if he is to broaden his appeal, but has been frustrated in attempts to entice IBF champion Bernard Hopkins into a unification fight.

Victory over Krasniqi, who has lost only two of his 41 fights but has campaigned well below Cleverly's level, would bring a dream showdown with the 48-year-old Hopkins a step closer.

"Hopkins is such a brilliant tactician and an elite level fighter. He'll ask questions I've never been asked before," he said.

"Have I got what it takes at the elite level? That's what he'll ask me and that's what I want to find out.

"Hopkins is the perfect guy to do that. I believe I can do it, it's just about proving you can.

"Possibly if I put on a good show against Krasniqi a lot of fighters will be on guard in the division and they won't fight it.

"They'll see the hunger, enthusiasm and ferocity I bring. That will put a lot of fighters off.

"We're lining up a big fight for later this year. We're having a few defences of my title and picking up experience before the unification fights."

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by explosiv on 04-20-2013

Commend Clev if he goes for it. Hopkins is tough for anyone even now.

Comment by T-97 on 04-20-2013

[QUOTE=LacedUp;13270527]Hopkins is a champion, his age is irrelevant. He just beat a young strong champion, so if Cleverly beats him he should get his credit.[/QUOTE] I'd give Cleverly some credit, as Hopkins has shown he can still compete at a…

Comment by yoz on 04-20-2013

Nathan's name-dropping again, eh?

Comment by Alx. on 04-20-2013

i see a robbery if this ever happens

Comment by dan_cov on 04-20-2013

He really is determined to follow in the footsteps of Joe Calzaghe. Don't expect him to come knocking on Kesslers door though should he beat Froch. He'll be up calling out a 90yr old B-Hop & Roy Jones Jr. I…

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