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Light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly has a new opponent on short notice for his title defense at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday night: Shawn Hawk.
Frank Warren, Cleverly's promoter, announced Monday that Cleverly would face Hawk rather than original opponent Ryan Coyne of St. Louis. Coyne dropped out of the fight due to a contract dispute with his promoter, Don King.
Cleverly (24-0, 11 KOs), 25, of Wales, said the change of opponents so close to the fight was a little problematic because he had been training to fight Coyne, a southpaw, while Hawk is a right-hander.
"If I go on my fighting instincts, I should be fine on fight night," Cleverly said. "I should be able to do the business. I got to the stage where I didn't care anymore who I was fighting. I decided I was ready to come here (to America) and fight whoever it is."
Warren made a deal with Golden Boy Promotions to put Cleverly's fight on its card. Golden Boy is promoting a Showtime tripleheader (10 p.m. ET/PT) headlined by junior featherweight titlist Abner Mares (24-0-1, 13 KOs) in his first defense against bantamweight titleholder Anselmo "Chemito" Moreno (33-1-1, 12 KOs).
In the other bouts, bantamweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 12 KOs) will make the second defense of his belt against Victor Zaleta (20-2-1, 10 KOs), and junior middleweight contender Alfredo "Perro" Angulo (20-2, 17 KOs) will return from a year out of the ring because of immigration problems to face Raul Casarez (19-2, 9 KOs).
Cleverly's fourth title defense against Hawk will air as part of the Showtime Extreme coverage of the preliminary bouts beginning at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
It is a surprise to see Hawk (23-2-1, 17 KOs), 28, of Sioux Falls, S.D., land a world title opportunity even on short notice. He has a limited resume and is coming off a decision loss to prospect Eleider Alvarez -- who was 8-0 at the time -- in Montreal in June.
"He has a good record with a high KO ratio," Cleverly said. "So he's a big puncher, and I won't treat him lightly because I can't get careless or reckless. He has a big opportunity by coming in late for a world title bid. He has nothing to lose. He is dangerous, but I will be on my guard.
"I will be aiming to look good and will definitely be trying to take him out."
Cleverly wants to make an impression on American fans, media and Showtime executives in the hopes of landing a more significant fight next year. He has been calling out champion Chad Dawson, titleholders Tavoris Cloud and Beibut Shumenov and former champ Bernard Hopkins.
"Every fighter wants to make their own name, and in the next year or so I have got an opportunity to take on the best in the world and make a legacy of my own," Cleverly said. "I don't set a time scale of how long I should stay in boxing. I just want to unify the division, and once that is achieved, then what more is there provided I have made enough money?"