Berman was reacting to reports, corroborated by Frank Warren, that Cleverly had injured himself – for the second time – ahead of his cruiserweight debut against the big-hitting African.
“I knew he’d pull out,” fumed Berman. “He’s not a true champion, I always felt that. Whatever excuse Cleverly is making, I know he hasn’t been injured. He pulled out because he realised he had no chance against Makabu. Everyone said that when the fight was signed and it obviously dawned on him.
“I always suspected he was molly-coddled. Frank Warren clearly shot his bolt by doing the deal and now has to accommodate his fighter wanting out.”
Berman was unfazed by the development, saying he would secure a replacement for Makabu, who will be seeking his 16th win in 17 fights.
The tournament is topped by boxing’s fastest rising superstar, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, who will defend his WBA and IBO middleweight belts against former world title challenger Osumanu Adama.
Also featured are top-ranked Martin Murray (25-1-1, 11 KOs) of the UK and third-ranked Jarrod Fletcher (17-1, 10 KOs).