Cleverly likely to face Krasniqi next, not Hopkins
By Scott Gilfoid: Unless he’s given permission to bypass his mandatory defense against #1 WBO Robin Krasniqi (38-2, 14 KO’s) in order to fight 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins on March 9th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (25-0, 12 KO’s) will have to defend his title against the 25-year-old Krasniqi next. Just when it looked like Cleverly was going to get the fight with Hopkins it’s now looking like he’s missed his chance, perhaps permanently.
Krasniqi, who holds the WBO International light heavyweight title, still has to get past his next opponent Max Heyman this Friday night in Germany. But he probably and that will set up a Krasniqi vs. Cleverly fight for early next year.
It’s doubtful that the WBO will allow Cleverly to skip his defense against Krasniqi, and it’s also highly unlikely that Krasniqi’s promoters will let Cleverly make him wait while Cleverly goes and fights Hopkins in March. As such, it looks like Cleverly won’t be the one facing Hopkins on March 9th in Brooklyn. Hopkins will fight either WBA champion Beibut Shumenov or IBF champ Tavoris Cloud for one of their titles.
It’s too bad for Cleverly but that’s how it goes sometimes. The bad part about this for Cleverly is that if Hopkins gets beaten by Shumenov or Cloud, which is a strong possibility given Hopkins’ advanced age and his sub par performance last April in his loss to Chad Dawson, then a future fight between Clevely and Hopkins won’t be nearly as interesting. It’s one thing that Hopkins was beaten in his last fight by Dawson, but if he gets beaten by Cloud or Shumenov, then the interest just won’t be there for a Cleverly-Hopkins fight. Cleverly might still be interested in the Hopkins fight even under those less than appealing conditions, but he won’t get that bump up in status if were to beat Hopkins like he would now.
Cleverly-Krasniqi also likely won’t take place in the United States. Look for that bout to take place in either Wales or Germany.
A Cleverly vs. Krasniqi fight is probably the equivalent of Cleverly vs. Tommy Karpency or Cleverly vs. Hawk. Krasniqi looks very average in the fights I’ve seen of him and it’s a little odd that the World Boxing Organization as him ranked #1 at 175. He doesn’t look #1 to me. I think Krasniqi is a good 50 ranked contender, but not higher than that. Cleverly can beat this guy with one hand.
That’s how much of a mismatch this fight is. Hopefully the WBO gets their ranking sorted out after Krasniqi loses to Cleverly because it looks bad when you’ve got fighters with high ranking without the talent needed to succeed at that level. It just makes it easy on the champions to hold onto their belts for long periods of time when the sanctioning bodies are ranking guys that appear not even close to that actual ranking in talent.