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Cleverly will defend in Italy next


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Cleverly faces up to Italian job


Nathan Cleverly is set to travel to Italy to face Antonio Brancalion for the European light-heavyweight title.


The 22-year-old undefeated British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion lost the purse bid to the Rovigo fighter's promoters, OPI 2000.


Ex-holder Brancalion, 33, has until 3 November to tell Cleverly the date and venue of the clash for the vacant belt.


"We'll go anywhere, any time [for the fight], Nathan's ready," Cleverly's father and trainer Vince told the BBC.


Cleverly, from Cefn Fforest, is bidding to become just the sixth Welshman to hold the British, Commonwealth and European crowns, following Jim Driscoll, Eddie Thomas, Dai Dower, Johnny Owen and Colin Jones.


None of those five went on to claim a world title, something Cleverly hopes to achieve in 2010 after he completes his maths degree at Cardiff University.


Only six other Welshmen have held the European crown, Percy Jones, Jimmy Wilde, Dick Richardson, Howard Winstone, Steve Robinson and Jason Cook.


Cleverly, who is promoted by Frank Warren, had hoped to go for the European belt on the undercard of Amir Khan v Dmitriy Salita in Newcastle on 5 December, but must now face the traditionally tough challenge of beating an Italian boxer on his home soil.


Brancalion has 32 wins (eight by knock-out), seven defeats and two draws from a 13-year career.


His only stoppage loss was against Germany's Juergen Braehmer in the 12th round of his last fight in June.


Brancalion lost his European title in that fight, Braehmer then vacating the belt as he awaits a shot at the WBO world crown.


Brancalion lost to former Joe Calzaghe victim Mario Veit back in 2003.


Cleverly won the Commonwealth crown in Liverpool last year and has had title fights in Widnes, Swindon and London.


He then added the British title to his Commonwealth crown with a thrilling seven-round win over Danny McIntosh at the York Hall in July, defending it against Courtney Fry at the same venue earlier this month.


That took his record to 18 victories, with eight knock-outs, in as many fights, the last five ending in impressive stoppages that have convinced the likes of Barry McGuigan that the Welshman can reach the top.


"My ultimate aim is to win a world title, but I've always wanted to go the traditional route of winning British, Commonwealth and European titles before I get there," said Cleverly.


"A lot of British fighters avoid this route because it is difficult.


"You have to win every domestic belt along the way and you're beating every top-ranked domestic fighter, which is a tough call.


"I'm doing it the hard way and I'm getting a lot more respect for that."




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