Boxing: Cleverly pulls out but still hopeful of landing Hopkins – really?

Despite the lack of substance Robin Krasniqi had on his resume, it is regrettable that the custodian of the WBO‘s Light-heavyweight belt, Nathan Cleverly was unable to defend it against him. For all the clamour for more progressive matchmaking for the young Welshman I’m equally eager to see busy fighters. Too many modern day boxers reach title level, whether domestic or international, and adopt the status of a religious deity. Permitting themselves just one or two public appearances a year.  While fight-figures always maintain fighters are made in gyms, I’m an advocate of the alternate view that fighters develop through competition and activity. One destination you wouldn’t expect this lost fight to lead to however is, Bernard ruddy Hopkins.

And yet, that is the view being espoused by Nathan Cleverly’s dad Vince. Speaking to the South Wales Argus he remained hopeful that one of the biggest names in boxing history could be tempted into a fight with his son.

“We probably need Bernard to beat Chad Dawson now for it to be sanctioned over a mandatory defence with the WBO,” he said.

“The promoters (Frank Warren and Hopkins’ representatives) Golden Boy want to make the fight so we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed and leave it to Frank.”

It is worth exploring the proposed attraction of a Cleverly bout for Bernard Hopkins. Despite the fact Cleverly v Krasniqi bout would have unfolded just hours before Hopkins rematch with Chad Dawson they remain, to most observers, world’s apart in terms of status and renown.

Beyond Dawson, in defeat or victory, it is possible to compile a list of fighters with whom Hopkins could tangle for greater reward. When I mentally tried to do so, with the caveat that the proposed opponent must likely be willing to fight on American soil, it didn’t take as long to exhaust the Light-Heavy, Super-Middle and even Cruiserweight divisions of ‘attraction’ opponents.

Bernard Hopkins at the Fight Night Club event.

Bute v Froch could produce one, or even two potential foes. Andre Ward of course remains the prize at Super-Middleweight but I don’t believe weight negotiation between the two parties would be easily resolved. There are the less shiny possibilities of Tavoris Cloud and Jean Pascal (again) but beyond those and more troubled contests, because of weight, with the likes of Antonio Tarver, it is a much shallower pile of possibilities than one might assume.

If Hopkins beats Dawson, Cleverly represents a unification fight of sorts. I don’t believe anyone would consider unification necessary to recognise  Hopkins as champion but it may provide a bout with a prize, and for Hopkins, moderate risk. Cleverly, for all his youth and vigour, doesn’t hide his chin and lacks seasoning. In short, he makes mistakes.

Perhaps in defeat, Hopkins may re-evaluate his recent assertion that he will fight until he’s 50. Or, less dramatically, seek an opponent of lesser calibre to rebound against. Such a scenario may lead him to Wales.

For all that rationalising, I still find it hard to comprehend Hopkins v Cleverly actually materialising this summer.

But I’ve been wrong before.



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