Nathan Cleverly is confident that he will finally land a long-awaited bout with Bernanrd Hopkins after the veteran American won the IBF light-heavyweight crown at the weekend.
Hopkins broker his own record to become the oldest champion in the history the sport when he defeated Tavoris Cloud by a unanimous points decision at the grand old age of 48.
Now it seems as though a unification bout is destined to happen as long as Cleverly can overcome his mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi on April 20.
"A potential fight between myself and Hopkins is inevitable now," Cleverly stated on BBC Sport. "I think we'll definitely get that fight on and I believe it will be after my next fight.
"Provided I get rid of this Krasniqi now... then I'm convinced that the Hopkins fight will be after that. I'm pretty sure a unification with Hopkins, with the IBF title on the line and the WBO title on the line, would take precedence over [another] mandatory challenger."
Cleverly has held the WBO title for close to two years but has struggled to secure big fights and many believe he has not been properly tested. His last two contests against Tommy Karpency and Shawn Hawk have been one-sided and Hopkins would certainly be a much tougher opponent.
Hopkins is regarded as one of the all-time great middleweight fighters and has still only suffered six losses in a career that spans some 25 years.
Having previously lost to one Welsh fighter, in Joe Calzaghe, Cleverly would hope to secure the same result. However, he is fully aware of Hopkins' talent and was full of appreciation for his performance against Cloud.
"Hopkins is just so clever the way he fights; he's 48 years of age, but he's exceptionally athletic. His technical boxing ability is brilliant and he caught Tavoris Cloud very flat-footed," added Cleverly.
"It was a really good performance from Bernard Hopkins and I'm glad he won the fight because it hypes up a fight between himself and me in the very near future."
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