Nathan Cleverly's unification hopes delayed by Braehmer bout

Nathan Cleverly

Nathan Cleverly's ambition of a light-heavyweight unification fight will have to wait after receiving a second mandatory challenge.

WBO champion Cleverly had hoped victory over Robin Krasniqi in March would open the door to a bout against one of the division's other champions.

But the Welshman, 25, has been told he must face Jurgen Braehmer after that.

"Provided I get the business done against Krasniqi, we're lined up for a fight with Jurgen Braehmer," he said.

Former champion Braehmer, 34, came through a tough WBO title eliminator against Edward Gutknecht in Berlin earlier in February.

Braehmer's hold on the WBO belt ended in 2011 when an eye injury forced him to withdraw 48 hours before from a fight with Cleverly, who was awarded the belt by default as the interim champion at the time.

Cleverly has defended the title four times since, and hopes that another two victories will finally deliver a meeting with fellow light-heavyweight champions Chad Dawson (WBC), Beibut Shumenov (WBA) or Tavoris Cloud (IBF).

"It's pretty sure we'll get through these two mandatory challengers and then we're definitely on for a big unification fight," he said.

"We're going to go for one of those big American names - any of the belt holders. I'm coming for all those belts."

Kosovo-born Krasniqi, 25, will bring a 38-fight winning streak into Cleverly's next defence on 16 March at Wembley Arena.

The pair were due to meet in April 2012 but a viral infection forced Cleverly to withdraw.

"This is potentially going to be my toughest fight," said Cleverly. "He's coming in with great confidence after a great winning streak of 38 fights.

"He's tough, he's knocked out his last four opponents and he's coming in very confident. I've got to be on top form for this fight.

"But he hasn't fought anybody like myself so this is going to be a big challenge for him. It's a real step up."

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