Enzo Maccarinelli calls out Nathan Cleverly

Enzo Maccarinelli (right) in action against Alexander Kotlobay
Maccarinelli is hoping to resurrect his career at light-heavyweight

Enzo Maccarinelli has challenged newly-crowned WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly to an all-Welsh clash.

"That's definitely a fight that's on the cards and what a big Welsh fight that would be - hopefully at Swansea's Liberty Stadium," said Maccarinelli.

Former WBO world cruiserweight champion Maccarinelli was at ringside at London's O2 Arena on Saturday when Cleverly beat Aleksy Kuziemski.

Cleverly responded by saying he was targeting "the big American names".

One such opponent named by the 24-year-old from Cefn Fforest is veteran warrior Bernard Hopkins, who became boxing's oldest world champion a few hours later by beating Canada's Jean Pascal in Montreal to secure the WBC and IBO light-heavyweight titles.

Hopkins, 46, took unbeaten Joe Calzaghe the distance in 2008 before losing to a split decision in Las Vegas and Maccarinelli claimed Cleverly is nowhere near ready to step up to that level.

"I don't think [promoter] Frank Warren would put him anywhere near Bernard Hopkins," said 30-year-old Maccarinelli.

"He's 46 years of age but he's still class. You saw the trouble he gave Joe. Some people questioned that decision but I thought Joe won very well.

"But Hopkins still caused trouble against the best fighter on the planet - Joe was the best fighter on the planet. Nathan is not the best fighter on the planet."

Maccarinelli is hoping to resurrect his career by dropping a weight division from cruiserweight to light-heavyweight.

He considered retirement in the wake of four defeats in three years - the most recent being a sickening seventh-round knockout to Germany's Alexander Frenkel in September 2010 when he broke his jaw.

But after talks with promoter Warren, Maccarinelli he has decided to fight on and believes a clash with Cleverly would capture the imagination of the Welsh public.

"I've said I never wanted to fight Nathan," he said, after commenting on BBC Radio Wales on Cleverly's fourth-round stoppage win over Kuziemski.

"We were never that close but he was a friend and an ex-teammate of mine. We were never as close as I was with Joe [Calzaghe]. Me and Joe would have never boxed.

"But Nathan Cleverly's dad, Vince, feels the need put me down and belittle me in front of people and on national television and papers. So, yes, that would be a fight I'd like."

Maccarinelli has returned to train at the Enzo Calzaghe gym in Newbridge, and his debut at the 175lb weight limit could come as early as July.

One possible opponent would be Liverpool's Tony Bellew, who missed out on a chance to face Cleverly on Saturday as a late replacement after failing to make a check weigh-in 24 hours before the scheduled fight.

But whoever he faces next, Maccarinelli feels certain he will return to the pinnacle of the sport and prove himself once again.

"I will be a world champion again," he said. "Whether I fight Nathan, I do, I do and if I don't, I don't. But I'm going to give anyone on this planet a test, trust me."

The next step for the ever-improving Cleverly looks to be two domestic defences, preferably in Wales he said, before the pursuit of the other world title holders in the light-heavyweight division begins in earnest.

Hopkins holds sway after his historic victory over Pascal, and the former undisputed middleweight champion - who currently holds the WBC and IBO belts - will fight Chad Dawson next.

"After a couple of defences I'm going for those big names," said Cleverly, who is Wales's 11th world boxing champion.

"I think Frank Warren wants a few defences. We'll keep a close eye on Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins and definitely eye up one of those for the future.

"I'm looking forward to a big homecoming and that's going to be in the near future.

"As for Maccarinelli, I think he's got a few issues to get sorted with a medical but if he gets himself into a mandatory position then it's possible. But he's got to come back from heavy losses.

"At the moment I've got bigger names on my radar, the big American names. That's where the money is. That's where I want the credit."

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