Cleverly (25-0, 12 KOs), long criticized for battling a host of tomato cans, will scrap Albanian Robin Krasniqi on April 20 at the Wembley Arena in London.
"This is a very important fight for Nathan Cleverly," said Warren, 61, a Brit who was nearly murdered during an organized hit in November 1989. "Nathan can't afford to slip up because if he does, any potential fight against Bernard Hopkins will go out of the window.”
"I had discussions last year with [promoter] Richard Schaefer from Golden Boy and we had agreed terms for Hopkins to fight Nathan in New York but unfortunately the WBO ordered the mandatory otherwise they would have stripped Nathan of the title. Now we have made this fight and if Nathan can come through it I'm very, very confident in the summer he will be facing Hopkins in the opposite corner."
The 48-year-old Hopkins (53-6-3-2, 32 KOs) unanimously outscored Tavoris “Thunder” Cloud to earn the IBF light heavyweight title and, again, become the oldest fighter to ever win a major world belt last Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Also a former two-weight world titlist, and reformed ex-convict, Hopkins broke his own feat by overwhelming Cloud (24-1, 19 KOs).
“We have got to do it - I have just got to perform like a world champion and get this guy done because he is in my way of the big fights, the elite fights, and I have just got to get him out of the way,” said Cleverly, 26, a Welshman who most recently vacated the squared circle with an eight round TKO victory over American Shawn Hawk in November. "Because [Hopkins] is IBF world champion now it is a blessing in disguise the fight didn't happen last year - it will be better now with my world title and Hopkins' [title], so we will get a unified world champion."
A quasi geriatric, “The Executioner” remains a defensive virtuoso with an insatiable appetite for winning.
Despite being 22 years older, Hopkins, who safeguarded his middleweight crown a record 20 straight times from 1995 through 2005, would still easily “Execute” Cleverly.
“Against Bernard Hopkins,” Nathan Cleverly will “go out of the window” and onto Queer Street.