Hopkins to Defend Title this Summer

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

48-year-old light heavyweight boxing champion Bernard Hopkins will face mandatory challenger Karo Murat (25-1-1, 15 KOs)  of Germany this summer, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “History is marching on,” Schaefer said. “Bernard is up for the challenge. Karo Murat is 29, young enough to be Bernard’s son. He’s a good fighter and he has been waiting for this kind of opportunity.” He said the fight would take place in July or August at either the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., or Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.

“It’s an obligation I have to do now,” Hopkins told ESPN.com while in Philadelphia. “If there was a better option, maybe I’d do it. But there is no real option that’s better right now with all the other [top] guys fighting other fights right now. So there’s no other better option right now financially or historically than doing this fight and getting it out of the way, and at least you don’t get stripped of the title. But I got bigger fish to fry after I execute this guy. After this I want a superfight.”

Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KOs) defeated Tavoris Cloud on points on March 9 in Brooklyn, NY to win a light heavyweight belt for the third time and become the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a world title, breaking his own mark set at age 46 against Jean Pascal in their 2011 rematch. However, in order for the IBF to sanction Cloud-Hopkins, Cloud had to get an exception because his mandatory defense against Murat was due. The IBF granted the exception — and Murat’s team did not protest — with the stipulation that Cloud and Hopkins both agree to the winner facing Murat next or forfeit the title.

“From what I’ve seen of Murat, he’s a durable guy and a ‘B’ fighter, but I have to look at him like he’s an ‘A’ fighter,” Hopkins said. “He fought Cleverly and he got some experience. He’s rough and tough, so you got to come up with a game plan, especially at age 48. People want to tune in and see, ‘Is tonight the night Bernard Hopkins gets old?’”

Hopkins said his goal is take care of Murat, but with his sites set higher after that, with a goal of unifying the light heavyweight divisions by fighting Wales’ Nathan Cleverly, or by defending his title against super middleweight champ Carl Froch of England. “Those are both huge fights over there in the U.K., and I’d go over there for those fights, no problem,” Hopkins said. “I love when the crowd is against me. I love shutting them up.”

Hopkins also mentioned a possible future fight with former super middleweight champ Lucian Bute. “Listen, these guys have fights coming up and nobody is banging the door down to fight Bernard Hopkins,” he said. “I talked to Richard along with [attorney] Eric Melzer, and I know I had a duty after the Cloud fight to fight the mandatory, so we decided to get Murat out of the way, and then I can go on and unify the titles before I turn 50.”


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