At 47, Bernard Hopkins would outclass the 25-year-old Nathan Cleverly

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Cleverly lacks the stones to compete with Hopkins.

WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly successfully defended his crown against American Shawn Hawk with an eighth round TKO on Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

Cleverly (25-0, 12 KOs), also a former European, British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champ, somewhat struggled against Hawk (21-1-1, 17 KOs) until he began focusing on landing shots to the body.

“I enjoyed this, I enjoyed the atmosphere. He was a tough opponent but eventually I broke him down,” said Cleverly, 25, a Welshman who was battling for only the second time on US soil. “I’m really looking forward to coming back to the US and fighting here again.”

Cleverly, who has long been criticized for throwing fists with a host of tomato cans, is reportedly trying to cement a bout with legendary geriatric Bernard Hopkins.

“I’d love to defend against Hopkins next year,” said Cleverly, who is 22 years younger than the tough Philadelphian. “That is the kind of fight we are working to all the time. I’m now established at world level and that sort of big match is definitely on the cards for me.”

The 47-year-old Hopkins (52-6-2-2, 32 KOs), who safeguarded his middleweight belt a record 20 consecutive times from 1995 through 2005, has not entered the squared circle since losing a majority decision to Chad Dawson in April.

Hopkins, a reformed ex-convict who outclassed Jean Pascal in May 2011 to earn a unanimous decision victory and become, at 46, the oldest man to capture a major title, is tentatively slated to scrap an opponent to be determined on March 9 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Mike Cappiello, a native of “The City of Champions” who once fought for the IBO super featherweight title and retired with an impressive mark of 33-6, has the utmost respect for Hopkins.

“Hopkins is not in it for the money,” said Cappiello, the owner of Cappiello Brothers Boxing gym in Brockton. “He loves to fight.”

Although two decades the Welshman’s senior, Cleverly lacks the testicular fortitude to compete with a legitimate badass like Hopkins.

If the two ultimately clash, expect Bernard Hopkins to easily outpoint Nathan Cleverly in decisive fashion.

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