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Nathan Cleverly too durable for 5/1 foe Krasniqi

The prospect of a clash with the evergreen Bernard Hopkins looms on the horizon for welsh WBO World Light Heavyweight Champion Nathan Cleverly, but the unbeaten Cefn Forest man must first dispose of Albanian-German Robin Krasniqi, a veteran of some 41 contests, in convincing fashion if he is to realise his goal. Cleverly is a heavy 1/5 favourite for the clash with his challenger 5/1 for victory. 

Krasqniqi’s ledger reads 39-2-0 with those two points defeats coming in the first three fights of his career, an inauspicious start the 26-year-old puts down to being “a greenhorn” and having “no amateur education”. Since then he’s won 38 consecutive bouts, but much of that long back-catalogue of victories has been picked up well below the highest level.

Only in the last four fights has Cleverly’s opponent stepped up to European and the world level. Having previously gone four bouts without a stoppage victory he’s ramped up the power since the step up, knocking out his last four foes.

Three of those wins came inside four rounds, whilst the one that didn’t – a KO of Hakim Zoulikha scored with five seconds of the twelfth round remaining – does much to vouch for the durability and lungpower of the challenger. Krasniqi is 22/1 with Coral to stop the Welshman in rounds 10-12.

Nathan Cleverly KO power improved similarly as his career matured but the stoppages have become less frequent again in his last five outings. The Welshman has been accused of complacency on more than one occasion after letting Tommy Karpency and Najib Mohammedi go the distance and he’s 11/10 gain victory after consultation with judges’ score cards.

In his most recent outing Cleverly wore some heavy shots from American challenger Shawn Hawk, just as he had done against Tony Bellew, but whilst this may point to haphazard defensive concentration, it also highlights Clevely’s chin, which has yet to be seriously troubled. Ultimately this may be what helps him wear down Krasniqi – the mathematics graduate is 5/1 to win in rounds 7-9 and 22/1 to win in the last three rounds.