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Cleverly keen to get past Krasniqi

ESPN staff
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Nathan Cleverly was first due to face Robin Krasniqi in April 2012 © Getty Images
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WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly will not underestimate Robin Krasniqi when he finally steps into the ring with the mandatory challenger at Wembley Arena on March 16.

Cleverly is still riding the wave of his knockout victory over Shawn Hawk in Los Angeles in November and has been tipped to draw fights with American legend Bernard Hopkins or fellow title holders Tavoris Cloud, Chad Dawson, and Beibut Shumenov.

Before that, however, the Welshman must first defend his belt against German-based Serbian Krasniqi in order to clear the path to top-ranked action, and is fully aware of what is at stake.

The two were set to fight on April 28 last year in professional boxing's return to the Royal Albert Hall in London, but Cleverly was forced with withdraw 11 days before the bout due to illness.

Krasniqi holds the WBO International title and has never been stopped in 41 fights, with only two points losses very early in his career.

"Krasniqi will be a hard defence and he's a fighter not to be underestimated," Cleverly said. "I've got to beat him and in style to keep the heat on for a unification fight against Cloud, Dawson or Shumenov.

"Every fight is crucial for me, but there is extra pressure on this one to perform which I love because I fight best when the pressure's on."

Cleverly is hopeful of booking is a super-fight with Hopkins should he overcome Krasniqi at Wembley.

"We were in talks with Hopkins camp for a long time and the deal was done. The fight was ready to go ahead but the WBO said I had to fight this mandatory challenger or I'll be stripped of my world title.

"He is not a name like Hopkins, but he can fight. He is hungry and dangerous."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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