Spoiler: This is what April 28 looks like for Nathan Cleverly and an overmatched opponent, too. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Nathan Cleverly's April 28 fight against non-contender Robin Krasniqi is set, despite the WBO earlier saying they would not sanction the bout. In a move that should surprise no one, the sanctioning body has "reached a deal" with promoter Frank Warren to allow this to happen, saving Cleverly's light heavyweight title and giving him another fight against somebody nowhere remotely near the world's best in the weight class.
Warren added, "Krasniqi is a tough fight for Cleverly and it’s easy to look ahead to a potential Hopkins fight, but Cleverly has to look good and do the business against Krasniqi first."
Krasniqi (37-2, 13 KO) has never beaten anyone of note and has mostly beaten flat-out scrubs over his six-year pro career. He is no more deserving of a title shot than Tommy Karpency was, and we all know how that farce turned out.
Selling Krasniqi as a legitimate opponent is also no surprise, since Warren did his best to make people believe Karpency, whose storylines coming in were "he sparred with Roy Jones Jr" and "he's a nurse," seem like some tough fight.
Warren is also again pushing this ridiculous idea that soon enough, Cleverly (24-0, 11 KO) will be facing the Hopkins vs Dawson winner, and he's yet again matched up his boy on the same date as another major fight in the division, hoping to draw some international interest -- and some at home, too -- by pretending that they're got any intention of soon fighting one of the other titlists.
He did it on May 21 last year, when Hopkins beat Jean Pascal; October 15 last year, the date of the first Hopkins-Dawson disaster; and on February 18 when Tavoris Cloud fought Gabriel Campillo. Each time Warren and Cleverly mention the bigger fighters in action later on the date, and then each time they try to find an easy opponent for him to face next instead, while still saying, "Yes, yes, those men are still in our plans, but first the grueling tests against the like of Karpency, Krasniqi, and Bellew, all great fights against top-notch opponents."
I know some of you think I'm too critical of young Nathan, but I just can't agree. I can't even pretend to kind of agree or "see your side" if you push that this is anything better than the wool being pulled over a fanbase's eyes. When he eventually steps up, at this rate my feeling is he's going to break a lot of hearts, leaving many wondering, "Hey! What happened!" As far as I can see, it's all getting totally predictable. He barely got past Tony Bellew, and now they're selling World Champion Nathan Cleverly in fights against guys who aren't acceptable opponents, hoping to milk what they can out of his status as "world champion." I know this shit happens all the time, but it's tiresome, and defending it as worthwhile seems bizarre to me.
They're afraid of matching him tough. You can call it "good business" all you want, and maybe it is, but I think they're clearly afraid of stepping up his competition. He was beating guys on the level of Karpency and Krasniqi years ago and beating them again isn't doing anything for him. The inevitable backlash if or when he proves to not be the elite ace fighter he's being sold as is going to suck, and it comes because the push is now a lie. He's a good fighter with flaws. Right now they're not daring him to be anything more.