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Boxing: Cleverly is sizing up a summer super-fight


It was all about this summer for Nathan Cleverly in Cardiff on Saturday night when he easily beat Tommy Karpency to retain his WBO light-heavyweight title and moved closer to an outdoor super-fight in June.

The bout was repetitious after two rounds when Karpency retreated inside a comfortable sparring-partner style and Cleverly, for all his flurries, simply could not put together enough clean punches to stop the American.

It was not a bad performance but Cleverly was often too close to make his punches count and Karpency simply rolled, tucked and blocked to the final bell.

There are several moveable and fluid plans for Cleverly's future, including a number of different fighters, each delivering something positive and marketable; Enzo Maccarinelli, the former cruiserweight world champion who trained alongside Cleverly for nearly a decade, the current IBF champion Tavoris Cloud and the iconic veteran Bernard Hopkins.

During the last few months discussions have taken place with people attached to both the Cloud and the Hopkins camp, and in theory both fights could be made and they could take place in Cardiff at either the Millennium Stadium or Cardiff City's ground. Hopkins, however, has a tricky WBC defence against his nemesis Chad Dawson in April; defeat would delay any planned excursions to Cardiff.

However, the domestic option against Maccarinelli would, under certain circumstances, be a massive fight. Maccarinelli has to first win his British cruiserweight title fight in March and then comfortably drop a stone, move back to light-heavyweight and convince everybody that he is strong at the weight.

One idea could see Kaparency returning to Britain for a 10-round test against Maccarinelli. On Saturday Maccarinelli had an easy win and then made his intentions clear: "I want Cleverly this summer in a fight the sport needs."

"I will be better against better fighters," claimed Cleverly. "All champions fight up and down depending on their opposition. I'm the same, watch me against the best because that is what matters."

On Saturday night Cleverly needed some fear, something he will no doubt have against a better fighter.