Nathan Cleverly wants unification summer showdown

Nathan Cleverly
Nathan Cleverly is undefeated in 23 fights since his 2005 professional debut

Nathan Cleverly insists the lure of a unification showdown will ensure the WBO light-heavyweight champion does not get "careless" against Tommy Karpency.

The unbeaten Welshman meets the 25-year-old American in his third defence in his Welsh homecoming at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena on 25 February.

Cleverly wants to fight WBA title-holder Beibut Shumenov or WBC champion Bernard Hopkins in the summer of 2012.

"It's a matter of not getting careless and keep on winning," Cleverly said.

Cleverly's promoter Frank Warren gave Shumenov and Hopkins the chance of going head-to-head with the 24-year-old in a bid to unify their titles in February.

But the press release from Warren's promotion company revealed Shumenov felt he "would not be ready in a time" while veteran American legend Hopkins has his Chad Dawson rematchexternal-link.

Cleverly returns to Wales for the first time as a world champion to defend his WBO crown against a fighter who is ranked number 11 by the World Boxing Association and has 21 wins from 24 fights.

But the Pennsylvania fighter lost to Karo Murat for the WBO intercontinental light-heavyweight belt in May 2010 and has fought just once since, a first-round knockout of journeyman Andre Hemphill in February 2011.

"No he wasn't my first-choice opponent," Cleverly said.

"We had a list of fighters and we tried a few others but obviously negotiations fell through.

"But for me it was a case of coming home and fighting, I wasn't bothered who stepped in because every fighter is a potential threat.

"It is a matter of making a big statement at home in Wales.

"We tried Shumenov but that fell through for some reason. That was my first choice, that was the one I wanted because he is WBA champion.

"So I'll just have to get on with business."

Cleverly has defended his WBO title against Aleksy Kuziemski and Tony Bellew but the February show in Cardiff will be his first fight in Wales since beating Joey Vegas on points in November 2007.

And the Cefn Fforest fighter wants to impress against Karpency to set up a "big summer showdown" with either Shumenov or Hopkins.

"Bernard Hopkins is potentially in the pipeline," Cleverly said.

"It's a matter of winning and performing, as I hope for a big summer showdown with a big name in the division."