Cruel Britannia

Cancellation hard to stomach as Cleverly sick again.

He has dealt with disappointment before but this time it's really angered him. With less than two weeks to go before a career defining world title fight with world champion Nathan Cleverly, Munich's Robin Krasniqi must now carefully re-plan his training after the fight was put back by 5 weeks to April 20th after the two headline acts suffered illness.

His showdown with Nathan Cleverly for the WBO world light-heavyweight title was originally made for The Royal Albert Hall in spring 2012. Cleverly pulled out of that match after picking up a virus which stopped him from being able to prepare in time and the fight was cancelled.

Welshman Cleverly, promoted by Frank Warren, had planned to make a name for himself in America with a money-spinning fight against 48-year old former champion Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins. The WBO had already sanctioned a self-made match with relative unknown Shawn Hawk (currently ranked 50th in the world by BoxRec) which Cleverly comfortably won by 8th round TKO. The generosity of the sanctioning body would not extend any further.

That fight was the only time Cleverly has fought in the past 12 months whilst Krasniqi has gone from number four in the WBO rankings to become their mandatory challenger, coming through two good tests unscathed. Firstly, unbeaten Serdar Sahin lasted just four rounds before being knocked out in devastating fashion to earn Krasniqi the WBO International title with that victory in Berlin last August. Then in November, American Max Heyman was thoroughly outclassed in three rounds to add a fourth straight knockout to Krasniqi's record while making the first defence of his newly acquired title.

With those wins Krasniqi has promoted himself into the mandatory position at the WBO and earned himself another chance to fight for the world title which was originally scheduled for March 16th in London. Krasniqi was to form part of a mammoth bill at the Wembley Arena called "Rule Britannia" which also boasted a world lightweight unification match between Ricky Burns and Miguel Vazquez, a European super-middleweight title challenge for George Groves, who this week defected to rival promoter Matchroom Sports. There is also a return for heavyweight Dereck Chisora after he was banned by the The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) for a brawl with David Haye in Munich last year.

Earlier this week promoter Frank Warren published a message on Twitter claiming that Cleverly had once again been struck down by a stomach virus just weeks before his re-arranged appointment with 25-year old Krasniqi.

"Nathan Cleverly this week has been suffering from a stomach virus that has left him unable to train this week and at World title level a week missed of training. We apologise to fans who have booked travel and accommodation for the show and have been inconvenienced by this unavoidable change. Tickets that have been purchased for the show will be still be valid for the new date."

Krasniqi arrives with more than enough prestige. Photo: Tony MaygerThere were no further details given as to whether this is the same virus that forced him to pull out of the contest last year but the coincidence has got people asking questions. In another twist of bad luck, the unification clash between IBF world lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez and Scotland's WBO title holder Ricky Burns also bit the bullet after the Mexican claimed that he suffered a dose of food poisoning. All this has led to the event being postponed by five weeks, a move which has angered Albanian-born Krasniqi and his promoter.

Krasniqi wrote on Facebook, "I want to move on and think no more about it because otherwise it'll just make me unhappy about what he's doing. I'll keep going and eventually he will stand before me, then I will make him pay for everything".

Krasniqi's promoter, Ulf Steinforth, has also reacted angrily to the news that the bout is cancelled again and hopes that the WBO take action, presumably to strip Cleverly of the title. That could mean Krasniqi and the 34-year old former world champion Jurgen Braehmer battle it out in a big domestic clash for the burgundy belt.

Let's hope there are no more delays and that boxing fans can finally see these two exciting and skilful pugilists finally get it on soon.

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