The 25-year-old makes the third defence of his WBO strap against Shawn Hawk in Los Angeles tomorrow.
"It's a really proud moment for me," he said. "Joe retired, he was looking for a new star to come through and take over the mantle.
"Fortunately and thankfully I've fallen into that category.
"It's a pleasure taking on that role as world champion, keeping the flag flying high and doing the nation proud."
Cleverly previously boxed in America in 2008, beating Antonio Baker via a unanimous decision on the undercard of Calzaghe's blockbuster bout with Bernard Hopkins.