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Cleverly opens talks over unification showdown

ESPN staff
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Nathan Cleverly has defended the WBO title three times © Getty Images
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WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly has opened negotiations with Beibut Shumenov, the WBA king, over a unification fight in Las Vegas.

Cleverly has made three defences of the title he was handed in May 2011, but despite those successes, has expressed a desire to step up his level of competition.

Shumenov, the Vegas-based Kazakh who won a world title in his tenth professional fight, would on paper be Cleverly's stiffest test to date - and Shumenov claims talks have already commenced.

"Frank Warren has informed Mr Chargin [Don, Shumenov's adviser] that they are willing to come to Las Vegas to fight so we shall see," Shumenov said to worldboxingnews.net.

"It will be the best option for us fighting in the boxing capital of Las Vegas for a unification. I don't know what the future holds at the moment or what opportunities may arise."

Shumenov, who holds a 13-1 professional record, has made four defences of the WBA strap since claiming it in January 2010. He represented Kazakhstan in the 2004 Olympics, losing in his second-round battle with Turkey's Ihsan Yildirim Tarhan.

Cleverly was due to face Robin Krasniqi in April, but withdrew after contracting a viral infection.

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