WBO light heavyweight titleholder Nathan Cleverly has vowed to stay focused on his next defense — against unfancied American Tommy Karpency — as he looks towards a major unification clash later in the year.
The undefeated Welshman is a red-hot favorite to retain his title for a third time when he meets 25-year-old southpaw Karpency (21-2-1, 14 knockouts) on Feb. 25 in front of a partisan home crowd at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.
But Cleverly insists he is taking nothing for granted with a possible summer showdown at stake, against either WBC titleholder Bernard Hopkins or WBA champ Beibut Shumenov. With a standout display next month, Cleverly (23-0, 11 KOs) is convinced he will be well on the road to a signicant future payday.
“It’s just a matter of not getting careless and to keep on winning,“ said the 24-year-old from Cefn Fforests. “No, he (Karpency) wasn’t my first-choice opponent. We had a list of fighters and we tried a few others, but obviously negotiations fell through. We tried Shumenov but that fell through. That was my first choice, that was the one I wanted because he is the WBA champion.
“But for me it was always a case of coming home and fighting. I wasn’t bothered who stepped in because every fighter is a potential threat. For me, it’s about making a big statement — at home in Wales.
“I hope for a big summer showdown, with a big name in the division. Bernard Hopkins is potentially in the pipeline. But I have get on with the business. It’s a matter of winning — and performing.”