Following his win last night over Shawn Hawk, WBO light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly says he's ready and willing to fight Bernard Hopkins when the living legend returns to the ring on March 9, 2013, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
"That would be a great fight. Bernard was a great fighter. I think that fight would be great for the light heavyweight division. I'm a world champion, I've got an exicting style. It would be a good gel of styles in that fight. Bernard is technically excellent and with my excitement - that would be a interesting fight and one that I would like to be involved in."
Cleverly (25-0, 12 KO) has been named as one of three men who may be in line to face Hopkins, who turns 48 in January, and all are titlists. IBF champ Tavoris Cloud and WBA beltholder Beibut Shumenov have also been mentioned. Cloud would seem the least likely of the three, as he's promoted by Don King, who can be notoriously difficult to deal with in situations like this, but he's also the best-known to U.S. fans (not that he's particularly famous).
Cleverly, who will turn 26 in February, went 2-0 this year, but his wins over Tommy Karpency and Hawk are considered rather awful for a fighter calling himself a world champion. Neither man was a legitimate contender. But facing Hopkins, even at this advanced age, would be a big step up in class and one worth taking the time to get there, both in terms of money and potential to make a name for himself. Sure, Bernard lost his last fight pretty convincingly, but he's still probably the division's biggest star, and it would be a huge opportunity for Cleverly, or either of the other two candidates.