By Luis Sandoval
WBO Light Heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly will be making his second trip overseas from the United Kingdom to the United States as he will defend his title against late replacement Shawn Hawk. Cleverly was originally supposed to face Ryan Coyne but due to Coyne’s promotional disputes with Don King not being settled, he was forced to pull out.
With only 5 days notice of his new opponent, Cleverly isn’t too bothered as he’s had this happen to him in the past. His main focus is being able to get a win and look impressive as he fights in the US for only his second time.
“That is the idea to come to the states and gain some US exposure and make a statement and hopefully in 2013 set up the big unification fight. So this is the plan for me” Cleverly would tell BoxingScene.
While Cleverly may not be in boxing’s deepest division, there are still big fights for him to make against the other champions. He feels he’s ready to step up to the next level and test himself against the best.
“I believe I can be the best but believing it and actually producing it is different. I just want the opportunity to prove it. And once I get in the ring with these top guys, that [will] be the challenge. Can I step up and can I beat these top fighters and I believe I can. So that’s the goal” said Cleverly.
“I think in 1 or 2 fights time I’ll be ready. I think this fight on Saturday is more experience as a world champion. I’m still 25 years of age but I think after Saturday night, I believe I’m ready for those guys and test myself against the best.”
While Cleverly is indeed ready for a big challenge, he doesn’t have a specific opponent in mind at the moment. He does however acknowledge the options available to him and would welcome them all.
“There’s a few names. We got Beibut Shumenov, the WBA champion. Tavoris Cloud, the IBF [champion]. And [Bernard] Hopkins. Hopkins is still around. A former champion and great fighter so that would be a great fight. Anyone of those names” said the Wales native.
Cleverly is looking to put on an impressive performance this Saturday night at the Staples Center and plans for a big 2013.
You can follow Luis Sandoval on Twitter @Truewest007. You can also tune in to The Boxing Lab, Boxingscene’s official audio show every Tuesday from 6-8PM PST with hosts Ernest Gabion, Luis Sandoval, and Ryan Burton.