• Light-heavyweight

Cleverly in a rush to unify, and retire

ESPN staff
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Nathan Cleverly has ambitions to unify the light-heavyweight division © Getty Images
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World champion Nathan Cleverly admits his aim to unify the light-heavyweight division is tempered by his desire to stop boxing 'as soon as he can.'

Cleverly, 26, would need to take Tavoris Cloud's IBF title, Beibut Shumenov's WBA belt, Chad Dawson's WBC and the American's 'The Ring' crowns to unify his division.

And he needs to add all four belts to his WBO title in the next five years as the Welshman does not intend to fight beyond his early 30s.

"Boxing is a great sport but it's not a sport you want to hang around in taking too many punches," Cleverly told the South Wales Argus. "I want to get out as soon as I can.

"There are a lot of boxers who fight on for far too long and there's a lot of damage that can be done taking punches to the brain. It's a brutal sport. Once you're past your prime there's only one way your career is going to go and that's down.

"I don't want a long career. I want to achieve my goal to unify the division and earn enough money to retire with my health. But I've got another couple of years yet before I reach my prime and I want to make the most of it and get those big unification fights."

Cleverly's next step is to dispose of WBO challenger Robin Krasniqi at Wembley on March 16, something he knows will not be easy. The German-based fighter is unbeaten since 2006, a period in which he has fought 38 bouts, and he has won his last four by knockout.

"This guy is a good fighter," Cleverly added. "He's going to be very confident but I've got to take that confidence away from him in the fight. I want to make a statement. I want to keep winning and keep progressing towards the big fights I want and he's an obstacle in my way. I've got to beat this guy.

"We're getting towards the business end of training now and I'm getting that buzz. I'm looking forward to fight night now."

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