A world unification fight between WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly and WBA rival Beibut Shumenov in 2012 has moved a step closer.

BBC Sport Wales understands that preliminary negotiations have taken place between the two camps.

Cleverly wants hold the fight in his native Wales but will travel to Las Vegas where Shumenov now lives.

“Beibut Shumenov, the WBA world champion, he’s next in my sights,” unbeaten 24-year-old Cleverly said.

“So whether that’s going to be in Wales or in Las Vegas, where he’s based, we’re yet to find out but wherever the fight takes place I’m really looking forward to that one.”

Shumenov has defended his WBA world crown on three occasions and the 28-year-old from Kazakhstan wants to unify the division, as does Cleverly.

IBF belt holder Tavoris Cloud is another rival challenger in the 175lb division.

“I want to fight the best to be considered the best 175-pounder in the world,” Shumenov said previously.

“All of these guys talking about unifying. Well, if they really want to make it happen all they have to do is contact us.

“I told [IBO champion Jean] Pascal that I’m from Kazakhstan, he lives in Canada; so, we should fight in the capital of boxing, Las Vegas. Same goes for Cleverly, who is from the United Kingdom.

“I’m getting ready and looking forward to a fresh New Year. Hopefully, one of the other light-heavyweight world champions will put his title belt on the line against mine in a unification fight in 2012.”

Cleverly has not ruled out a rematch against Tony Bellew, after defeating the Liverpudlian by points in October.

But whoever he ends up facing, Cleverly says he is yearning to fight in front of a home Welsh crowd for the first time since defeating Joey Vegas in November 2007.

“Preferably I’d love a homecoming now in Wales, it has been a long time,” Cleverly said.

“Most of my fights have been all over the country but a nice homecoming in Wales, that would be another dream of mine – to come to Wales as world champion, defending my title.

“So that would be my number-one venue, otherwise if we’ve got to travel to Las Vegas then so be it. We’ll go out there and do the business.”

Cleverly’s promoter Frank Warren was considering a possible fight against WBC champion Bernard Hopkins but the 46-year-old could be set for a rematch with Chad Dawson following their controversial in October.

There has also been talk of a possible all-Welsh clash with Enzo Maccarinelli, after the former WBO cruiserweight champion made a successful debut at 175 lbs after deciding to step down a division.




If you saw WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly’s close 12 round majority decision win over challenger Tony Bellew (16-1, 10 KO’s) last Saturday night you would think the last thing that Cleverly needs to be doing is trying to move forward to fight WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson or 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins. But that’s exactly what the 24-year-old Cleverly wants to do.

I think he’s stupid for wanting this, because I think he didn’t even prove that he’s better than Bellew last weekend. I scored the fight a draw and that was after giving Cleverly a couple of mercy rounds. I really think he should have lost, but knowing how popular he is in the UK, I figured he would be given rounds that were close even if Bellew appeared to do the better work. The judges scored it 117-112, 114-114 and 116-113. The 117-112 score was just plain strange because there was no way on earth that Cleverly won by those wide of score.

Instead of looking to fight Dawson or Hopkins, and get dominated, Cleverly needs to give Bellew a rematch but with a whole different crew of judges apart from the one that scored it 114-114. I think Cleverly needs to show that he’s better than Bellew before he can move on to bigger and better things like Dawson or Hopkins. And right now Cleverly and Bellew are about equal. That’s just the reality of it. Cleverly can move on if he wants to but he looks bad because he didn’t show that he was better than Bellew.

Hopkins and Dawson aren’t going to waste time fighting Cleverly. That’s not going to happen. Dawson wants to fight a rematch against Jean Pascal, while Hopkins is injured from a bad shoulder injury. Who knows how long it will take for that injury to heal, but I don’t think he’ll want to fight a less than popular guy like Cleverly in his next fight in the U.S. Hopkins won’t travel to England, that’s the only place that a Cleverly vs. Hopkins fight has any significance. U.S fans won’t buy that fight, especially after the PPV fiasco of the Hopkins-Dawson fight.

Cleverly said this to ringtv: “I think Shumenov would be good next step for me. He’s only had about 13 fights and is WBA champion. Or there’s Tavoris Cloud, the IBF champion, who is a good fighter. There’d both be unification fights. If a fight with Hopkins or Dawson came along I would take it. Whether or not I’m ready, I don’t know.”

You’re not ready, Cleverly; take it from me. I think Cloud would knock Cleverly out with his high work rate and the same with Shumenov. With his poor defense, Cleverly would be a sitting duck against Cloud and Shumenov.
I hate to say it but Cleverly pretty much found his upper level in the Bellew fight and he’s reached his ceiling.

By Scott Gilfoid: