WBO light-heavyweight world champion Nathan Cleverly looks set to be frustrated once again in his attempts to secure a unification bout with American legend Bernard Hopkins.

And the Cefn Fforest star could also miss out on a potential title defence against Sergey Kovalev as the rising Russian star looks set to usurp Cleverly and take on Hopkins himself.

Cleverly was due to attend a Frank Warren Promotions press conference yesterday, where he was expected to announce an August clash with Kovalev.

But that was cancelled at the last minute and rearranged for today with speculation in America that Kovalev will be Hopkins’ next opponent instead.

Kovalev won a lot of admirers Stateside by knocking out Cornelius White in three rounds last Friday and afterwards he called out the veteran IBF champion.

And with Hopkins’ losing his July 13 fight against Karo Murat due to the German’s visa issues, he could be tempted to take on Kovalev on that date instead.

Kovalev has 21 wins with 19 knockouts and just one defeat on his professional record and is now a bigger name in the crucial US TV market than the relatively unknown Cleverly.

If the fight were to be confirmed it would be a huge blow to Cleverly, who has pursued a fight with former Joe Clazaghe victim Hopkins for more than a year now.

Cleverly is due to make a mandatory defence of his WBO title against the German challenger Jüergen Bräehmer next but he wants to start ripping the belts off the other world champions, including Hopkins – who at 48 is the oldest world champion in boxing history – before the year is out.

“Although I’m due to face Bräehmer I don’t think he really wants to fight me,” said Cleverly after his unanimous points victory over Robin Krasniqi in April.

“I’m still learning but I’m winning and winning quite well now, so I want fights that test me. And that’s the elite fights now – Hopkins and those guys.

"Maybe (WBA light-heavyweight champion) Beibut Shumenov will be a good option and the winner maybe gets Hopkins.

“If he doesn’t want to come out of America I will make sure I go there and take that belt off him.”