Light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly waited through a five-week delay to face mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi and is ready to go.
The fight was originally scheduled for March 16, but the entire card was postponed because promoter Frank Warren had issues with several of the bouts on the show, including the fact that Cleverly got ill.
So now Cleverly, making his fifth title defense, and Krasniqi will meet on Saturday (Epix and EpixHD.com, 5 p.m. ET) at Wembley Arena in London.
“Prep has gone OK. Delays are a part of boxing,” Cleverly said. “When the news of the delay broke, I just eased off the gas for a week or two and enjoyed a welcome bit of junk food. I do like my curries, pizzas and Chinese plus a Magners [Irish cider] with ice. When the time came to step back on it, I was refreshed.
“The only thing I’ve really changed has been my environment. Earlier in the year, not really as part of the camp for this fight, I went to a mate’s gym in Alicante in Spain for a bit of warm weather training, mixed in with a bit of a holiday. Recently, for a change of scenery, I’ve been training at [trainer] Don Charles’ gym in London. It’s taken me away from my home comforts, which helps keep the mind fresh.”
Former heavyweight title challenger Dereck Chisora (15-4, 9 KOs), 29, of England, seeking to end a three-fight losing streak (which includes a robbery against Robert Helenius, the championship loss to Vitali Klitschko and the knockout loss to David Haye), opens the telecast in a scheduled 10-rounder against Argentina’s Hector Alfredo Avila (20-12-1, 13 KOs).
Although Cleverly (25-0, 12 KOs), 26, of Wales, owns a 10th-round knockout win against top-10 contender Karo Murat (who is set to challenge titleholder Bernard Hopkins this summer), he said he views Krasniqi (39-2, 15 KOs), 26, of Germany, as his best opponent.
“Krasniqi is a dangerous challenger, the best I’ve faced yet and I’ve trained as if I’m the challenger in this fight,” Cleverly said. “In my eyes he’s unbeaten. The two losses were on points and were at the beginning of his career and he’s worked his way to the No. 1 spot. He’ll be hungry to take the title from me.”
Krasniqi began his pro career 1-2 with a pair of four-round decision losses in late 2005 and early 2006, but he is unbeaten since.
“I’m ready for a war against Krasniqi,” Cleverly said. “Whatever he brings to the fight I’ll have an answer for. If he wants it toe-to-toe I’ll come out on top or if he doesn’t want to mix it I’ll out-box and outsmart him.”