Nathan Cleverly to headline Wembley showcase

TITLE DEFENCE: World champion Nathan Cleverly

TITLE DEFENCE: World champion Nathan Cleverly

First published in Sport

CEFN Fforest star Nathan Cleverly headlines a best of British bill at Wembley Arena in March as he defends his WBO world light-heavyweight title against mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi.

Cleverly made a big impression in America with his knockout win over Shawn Hawk in November and now he has to remove Krasniqi on March 16 before he can secure fights against top US fighters Bernard Hopkins, Tavoris Cloud and Chad Dawson.

But it won’t be an easy night against the dangerous German-based Serbian Krasniqi who holds the WBO international title. He has won his last four fights by KO 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,” said Cleverly.

“I’ve got to beat him and in style to keep the heat on for a unification fight against Cloud, Dawson or (Beibut) 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.”

Promoter Frank Warren’s Rule Britannia show also features Scotland’s Ricky Burns and England’s George Groves and Dereck Chisora.

WBO world lightweight champion Burns joint-headlines the show in a sizzling unification showdown against tough Mexican IBF world champion Miguel Vazquez.

Burns, aged 27, returns to action following his tremendous 2012 when he become Scotland’s first two-weight world champion in 20 years and ended the year stopping long-time rival Kevin Mitchell inside four rounds.

With thrilling wins against top fighters Roman Martinez and Michael Katsidis in his career, Burns faces yet another hard test against Vazquez, 26, who has made five defences of his world title in a 36-fight career.

Burns said: “This is a dream come true for me. Any boxer would be happy winning two world titles at two weights and retire, but for me I want to continue winning more world titles, unifying them and stepping up the weight divisions.

“Vazquez is a top fighter and one that I’ve been after a long time.”

London star Groves aims to add the vacant European super-middleweight title to his British and Commonwealth belts and heavyweight Dereck Chisora has his first fight of the year if he is successful in reapplying for his British Boxing Board of Control license.

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