Harry Pratt

Cleverly cancels title defense because of virus

Welshman Nathan Cleverly has been forced to scrap his WBO light heavyweight title defense against Robin Krasniqi later this month because of a virus.

The unbeaten 25-year-old from Cefn Forest was due to meet Kosovan Krasniqi at the Royal Albert Hall, in London, a week this Saturday, but due to the illness has not been in a position to train properly.

I’ve been unable to train as I’ve been laid up in bed with a viral infection,” said Cleverly, who would have been making his third defense. “There’s not enough time to make up what I’ve missed in training. I’ve taken the advice of my doctor and been told to fully rest before attempting to start training again.

“I’m really disappointed because I was looking forward to being the first fighter to bring boxing back to the Royal Albert Hall in over a decade and the first to fight there this century.“

Whether the bout with Krasniqi will be rescheduled remains to be seen. Promoter Frank Warren had to convince the WBO to sanction the fight after it initially demanded Cleverly (24-0, 11 KOs) face mandatory challenger Dmitry Sukhotsky, of Russia.

The news is a major blow to Warren, coming just a few hours after an injury to another of his fighters, super middleweight contender George Groves, forced the postponement of his title shot at WBO holder Robert Stieglitz.

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