Nathan Cleverly staying loyal to Frank Warren, hopes to face Bernard Hopkins

Bryn Lennon

Despite the recent defections from his stable, Frank Warren doesn't have to worry about losing Nathan Cleverly, who believes the veteran promoter is the right man to get him a fight with Bernard Hopkins.

After losing both George Groves and Ricky Burns to Matchroom Boxing in a seven-day span (though Burns is being sued), Frank Warren has loyalty from Nathan Cleverly, the WBO light heavyweight titlist who is now his biggest fighter, save perhaps for Dereck Chisora.

Cleverly, who returns on April 20 against Robin Krasniqi, believes that despite recent setbacks, Warren is still the promoter who can get him a fight with IBF titlist and working legend Bernard Hopkins, which remains the fight that Cleverly most desires.

"Things haven't been great for Frank in the past week, I'm sure he'd say that, but I have no desire to seek a move away from him. Times are tough with the current economic climate and it's unfortunate with certain fighters getting frustrated when bills are postponed, but that's life and that is boxing.

"But me personally? I am staying put, I feel loyalty to Frank because he's stayed loyal to me. He's survived rough patches before and will again, I know from experience he is the man who can get a fight made with Hopkins and Golden Boy."

One wonders what "experience" Cleverly is talking about from his own side, since he has been extremely carefully handled by Warren, who has milked the Welshman's status as "world champion" in some rather pitiful fights. Krasniqi is the mandatory challenger and not the worst fight, so at this point, it's sort of high-end in terms of Cleverly's career, perhaps behind only Tony Bellew and Karo Murat, neither of whom were in the divison's elite ranks then or even now.

Hopkins, of course, would be a big risk. Cleverly has youth and perhaps physical strength on his side in that matchup, but hasn't everybody in Bernard's run at 175 been able to say the same? Hopkins continues to neutralize guys whose styles he can feast upon, and Cleverly seems closer to Tavoris Cloud than Chad Dawson.

Still, it would be a good fight to make for both if Cleverly gets by Krasniqi as expected. There aren't a lot of major options at light heavyweight for Bernard, and looking at the current climate, there is a chance that Hopkins could actually unify the four major titles by the time he's 50, with the biggest challenge in that group being Dawson, not that anyone wants to see Dawson-Hopkins III.

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