Nathan Cleverly set for title defence against Sergey Kovalev

Nathan Cleverly

WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly will attempt to defend his title against Russian Sergey Kovalev on Saturday, 17 August.

The bout will take place at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena.

Cleverly announced the clash on Twitter, saying: "It's finally on! Fighting undefeated Russian KO specialist Sergey 'Krusher' Kovalev.

The Welshman retained his title with a points victory over Robin Krasniqi in April.

Victory over the Kosovo-born Krasniqi extended the 26-year-old Welshman's unbeaten record to 26 fights.

Cleverly had agreed in principle to fight Kovalev, but the IBF ordered title holder Bernard Hopkins to fight the Russian after he became mandatory challenger following his knockout win over Cornelius White.

But Kovalev has decided to take on Cleverly next in Wales instead of facing Hopkins in the United States.

"I've wanted Kovalev all along and I spoke to my promoter Frank Warren and said that this is the guy I want to fight," Cleverly added.

"He's making big waves in America and he's a fighter that people know.

"His knockouts are frightening to watch and give you a neck mohican, but that's when I perform to my best, when the adrenalin is flowing and the odds are stacked against me."

The 30-year-old from Chelyabinsk, who now fights out of Florida, said he was ready for his first world title challenge.

"My goal has always been to win the world title as soon as possible," Kovalev said.

"So I decided to take the first opportunity that was offered to me. And I have dreamed for many years about fighting on HBO. I look forward to going to Wales to fight with Cleverly and I congratulate him for accepting this challenge."

Cleverly has set his sights on unifying the light-heavyweight division by beating IBF champion Hopkins and WBA champion Beibut Shumenov.

He has also said he would be open to a fight against IBF super-middleweight champion Carl Froch should the Englishman decide to step up a weight division.

But Cleverly says efforts to attract a big-name opponent had been frustrating.

"I'm fit, I'm ready and willing to fight anyone in the light-heavyweight division," Cleverly said before confirming the encounter with Kovalev.

"I've called out some of the big names, they've declined the fight.

"We're doing our very best to make these big fights but unfortunately they're not going ahead and we're fighting these hungry challengers, who have got nothing to lose.

"That's why I've got to have my wits about me, but we'll just keep going."

Cleverly's fellow Welshman, Gary Buckland, has been lined up to defend his British super-featherweight title against Scottish rival John Simpson on the undercard in Cardiff.

Buckland, 26, won the title in 2011 following a thrilling 12-round encounter with Dewsbury's Gary Sykes and has made two successful defences of the belt, against Paul Truscott and Stephen Foster.

But Simpson, 41, comes into the fight with an edge in big-fight experience and after his victory over Choi Tseveenpurev to win the vacant WBO intercontinental super-featherweight belt in May.

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