Nathan Cleverly won't be defending his WBO belt against Robin Krasniqi, as the WBO has rejected the fight. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
WBO light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly and promoter Frank Warren announced another stinker fight today, naming Germany's totally untested Robin Krasniqi (37-2, 13 KO) as the April 28 opponent for Cleverly at Royal Albert Hall:
"Subject to confirmation from the WBO, Nathan has got a tough defence against Krasniqi who’s never been stopped in 39 fights and is ranked number four so it’s going to be a hard test for him."
Unfortunately for them, the WBO has rejected that idea and told Cleverly that he must face mandatory challenger Dmitry Sukhotsky (18-1, 13 KO).
Warren's glowing praise for Krasniqi is his usual B.S. where he makes easy fights and tries to sell his public on them with sanctioning body rankings and the amount of fights someone has had. Krasniqi has is currently rated 47th in the world by BoxRec -- I'm not saying you should give a ton of weight to BoxRec rankings, either, but if you can't get into a BoxRec top 25 in a division, you have no business fighting for a world title in most cases.
After Cleverly's absurdly easy title defense against Tommy Karpency in February, the April 28 date was set pretty quickly, and it seemed obvious that Warren would try to set up another awful fight, which is exactly what he did.
They talk and talk and talk about fighting unification bouts or the Hopkins-Dawson winner, but everyone who doesn't get aroused by the constant reminder that Cleverly is "a world champion representing Wales and Britain!!!!" should be quite able to see now that he is among, quite frankly, the weakest paper titleholders in the entire sport. He never really even won the thing -- it was handed to him when Juergen Braehmer pulled a Juergen Braehmer and wouldn't/couldn't go to the UK to defend the belt.
Braehmer was replaced by Aleksy Kuziemski, who didn't have a shot and lost in four. After that was Tony Bellew, who appears to have scared Warren and Cleverly into a foxhole by putting up an actual fight last October, which raised more red flags for Cleverly than it did make it seem as though Cleverly, a domestic-level fighter, was better than his reputation. And then came the Karpency disgrace.
Of course Cleverly won't get the same widespread criticism for fighting these guys -- or trying to, in this case -- that Floyd Mayweather will get for fighting Miguel Cotto, or Manny Pacquiao will get for fighting Tim Bradley. Those fights are, even adjusting for the levels of Mayweather and Pacquiao as compared to Cleverly, incredible compared to the substandard non-challenges pursued by Warren and Cleverly.
This could be solved, of course, if Warren and Cleverly would just make some decent fights. They don't have to be great -- I understand that fights with the other true top light heavies aren't easy to get done. Cloud has Don King to deal with, Bernard Hopkins picks and chooses what he does and does not want to do (and rightly so), Chad Dawson is tough because he's got no fans here and won't go there, Jean Pascal doesn't fight anymore, etc. But they're avoiding even second-tier fighters to the point that you have to truly wonder what they're worried about, and what their confidence level truly is at this point.
One fun thing is that Warren loves to do is schedule Cleverly on the same day as a more notable light heavyweight fight in the States. April 28 has the Hopkins-Dawson rematch, and Cleverly also fought May 21 last, when Hopkins beat Jean Pascal; October 15, when Hopkins and Dawson first "fought"; and then February 18, when Tavoris Cloud robbed Gabriel Campillo. Pretty sneaky, sis.