Nathan Cleverly will look to take care of business against a domestic rival, then move up in class. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Take this with a super, super big grain of salt, but Frank Warren says that the winner of the October 15 fight between WBO light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly and British/Commonwealth champion Tony Bellew could face Bernard Hopkins next:
"I'm in discussions with Hopkins' promoter Richard Schaefer about a potential fight with the winner," said Warren. "So it's a massive incentive for both guys."
Hopkins, of course, defends his WBC belt and the legitimate world championship against Chad Dawson that same night, on HBO pay-per-view from Los Angeles. Hopkins has a plenty tough enough test ahead of him, so it certainly shouldn't be assumed Bernard walks out of Staples Center still the champ, and if he does lose, you have to think that at 46 retirement would be a serious consideration.
But if he beats Dawson, he will fight on. And he's expressed some interest in going to Wales for a fight. Now, what he wants is a rematch with the retired Joe Calzaghe, but Calzaghe has expressed no interest in that publicly, and has in fact denied interest repeatedly, including when the two met up in Las Vegas on July 23 for the Khan vs Judah fight.
Cleverly (22-0, 11 KO) will be the big favorite against Bellew (16-0, 10 KO), but this is a heated rivalry outside of the ring and has been hyped well. No matter what you think of the validity of their press conference verbal battle in May, one thing Bellew notes is quite true: It will be a hostile, pro-Bellew crowd in Liverpool, and if that rattles Cleverly, this could be a fight.
I've mentioned before that I think putting the 24-year-old Cleverly in with Hopkins would be a bad idea, and I stand by that. Cleverly is a good talent, but Hopkins breaks down guys with more big-fight experience than Cleverly has. And let's be honest, Tony Bellew could knock Cleverly out in 30 seconds and he's not getting a fight with Bernard Hopkins. This is a Cleverly-only suggestion, and I just think it's a bad fight for him. It would be good for his wallet, but then what if and when the old man outclasses him severely?