‘The Beast incarnate’ Brock Lesnar soul-trapped WWE icon The Undertaker with a gem of a plot-twist at WrestleMania 30 earlier this month while there has been a considerable decline in standards at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson left his managerial post at Manchester United. Legends in different sports have faded this season yet the spirit of athletic anomaly Bernard Hopkins remains strong as the 49-year-old captured Beibut Shumenov’s title to become a unified champion at light heavyweight last night.
Never on this planet has the human race witnessed a boxer with the longevity that Bernard Hopkins, aged 48 and nine months, is enjoying. The master fighter, a first-ballot hall-of-famer, a middleweight all-time great, a lineal king in two weight classes, provided the reason why after claiming a wide points win over Karo Murat: ‘I’m a freaking alien.’
Bernard Hopkins, 48, danced metaphorical crop circles around IBF light heavyweight world title challenger Karo Murat on Saturday, October 26 at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. It was an intriguing fight, at times dirty, with the self-styled Alien retaining his championship, extending his own record as boxing’s oldest title-holder and showing another young gun that the old man has more left in him.
Karo Murat (25-1-1, 15ko) has the chance to crown himself as the light heavyweight champion of the world. The IBF mandatory challenger takes on the living legend Bernard Hopkins (53-6-2, 32ko and pictured below) this summer. Only a few more details will have to be sorted out, before this match-up will go ahead.
“I was so excited when I first found out about this,” said the 29-year-old Team Sauerland boxer. “We have been testing my punching power on Thursday and the good news gave me some extra motivation, which showed in the results afterwards.”
However, Murat is aware that his next test will be much more difficult. His opponent from Philadelphia wrote boxing history on March 9 when he became the oldest ever world champion at the age of 48 by beating then-titlist Tavoris Cloud. “Hopkins proved that he doesn’t belong to the old guard. I will do everything I can to be in the best shape possible.”
The fight against Hopkins will also be Murat’s first outing on American shores, a prospect he is relishing. “I am really looking forward to it. Fighting in the States will be a very special occasion in my career.” Murat also has a message for the IBF Champion: “I will hurt Hopkins. I have the same attitude as he does. I just don’t train hard, but I train the right way. He is going to feel that.”
Currently, July 27 is a possibility for the clash between the two light heavyweights with New York being the likely destination. Golden Boy Promotions and Sauerland Event will soon announce any new developments.
WBO world light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly believes a super-fight against new IBF king Bernard Hopkins (pictured) will tie-in with Cardiff City’s promotion to the Premier League. The 25-year-old was excited to read quotes from the American legend saying that he wants to fight him in the UK and sees him as a threat to any of the elite 175lb fighters in the division.
And Cleverly, a big Bluebirds fans and a schoolboy trialist for the club, is also eagerly anticipating Cardiff City’s return to top-flight football for the first time since 1962.
He makes the fifth defence of his title against mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi on Saturday, April 20 at Wembley Arena and then has another mandatory defence against Juergen Braehmer, but wants Hopkins straight after.
“Cardiff City are destined for the Premier League, barring any slip ups, and they’ll be facing the elite teams next season. I’ve got to get through Krasniqi and Braehmer first and then I can face my premier league of champions starting with Hopkins,” said Cleverly.
“It’s an exciting time for Welsh sport, Cardiff City entering top-flight and Wales winning the Six-Nations and me doing the business on the world scene defending my title, it can only get better and better.
“It’s great to read what Hopkins has been saying about me, he’s the ultimate warrior and doesn’t shy from any challenge. You saw how he schooled Tavoris Cloud last month to break his own record to become the oldest world champion in history. He wants to fight me so I say lets get it on, it would be an honour to share the ring with him and I’d love the challenge of beating a legend.”
Alan Dawson – London
Light heavyweight contender Tony Bellew hopes to follow in the footsteps of Matchroom Sports stablemate and welterweight campaigner Kell Brook when it comes to guaranteeing himself a mandatory shot at a world title. Bellew, 29, collides with fellow 175lber Roberto Bolonti on Saturday, November 17 and believes a win will act as a springboard to an eventual attempt at claiming the WBC belt, currently held by Chad Dawson.
“I want to put the pressure on someone like Chad Dawson to face me,” Bellew (18-1-0, 12ko) said ahead of his Capital FM Arena test in Nottingham.
Known for his concussive punch power, his ability to adapt in the ring and for giving countryman Nathan Cleverly a competitive battle for the latter’s WBO title last year, Bellew believes his reputation within Britain is working against him abroad as he is now regarded to be “maximum risk/minimum reward”. He added: “I am not a lucrative match for people to face.” As a result, the likeable Liverpudlian believes he has “to force one of these champions” into a fight.
“It might not be a WBC, it might be an IBF challenge to Tavoris Cloud. I don’t know which it is going to be but all I want to do is become a mandatory challenger, very similar to the way Kell Brook has done it.
“Roberto Bolonti is another step in the right direction, it is a WBC eliminator and it is for the Silver title. He is number five with the WBC and this should propel one of us into the top three in my opinion, so I am hoping to get fast tracked to the WBC.”
The light heavyweight landscape is one dominated by the presence of a quartet of North Americans including the returning former Ring Magazine champion Jean Pascal, heavy-hitting Tavoris Cloud and veteran ring king Bernard Hopkins. It is Chad Dawson, though, who Bellew ranks atop the lot.
“I believe Chad Dawson is the best light heavyweight in the world. I know he had the contentious fight with Jean Pascal but I believe he would have stopped Pascal if the fight would have been allowed to carry on, so I think Pascal got really lucky the cut came when it did.
“I do believe that Dawson is the best in the division and aside from him I feel everyone is on a level playing field. Bernard Hopkins, in terms of experience, is up there with Dawson but as an actual fighter I believe Dawson is proven to be the best light heavyweight out there. But I would be happy to fight him.”
If an Anglo-American feud were to develop between Dawson and Bellew, the Englishman would draw confidence from how Bad Chad was defeated by super middleweight lineal champion Andre Ward. He noted: “There is now a blueprint to beat Chad Dawson after what Andre Ward did [knocked him out], so I would be happy to go in there and carry out what Ward did to him.”
Bellew fights Bolonti on the “True Brit” card that is headlined by Carl Froch versus Yusaf Mack.
Words: Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Photos: Emily Harney – KZ Event Productions
Arguably the least heralded of all the light heavyweight world champions, Kazakhstani 28-year-old Beibut Shumenov successfully defended his WBA/IBA titles on Saturday, June 2 by unanimously decisioning challenger Enrique Ornelas (120-108 x3). Shumenov outclassed the Mexican – a former title challenger at super middleweight and ex incumbent of the NABF middleweight belt – before pondering the offers of three high-profile prizefighters.
At The Joint in Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Shumenov completely shut Ornelas out of contention as he collected the ten score in each and every round even though he was encumbered by an arm injury sustained during sparring, ten days prior to fight night. Ornelas refused to give up, but was too slow to cope with Shumenov, who attacked both the head and body throughout, timed uppercuts to perfection and landed right hands on multiple occasions.
On the victory, that sees his record rise to 13-1-0, 8ko, Shumenov said: “I trained very hard because I knew he [Ornelas] is very tough. His defence was very good. I wasn’t able to show my best because of the arm injury I suffered. I’m happy with the win.” Ornelas, meanwhile, fell to 33-8-0, 21ko as Beibut secured his fourth successful title defence having also triumphed over Danny Santiago, William Joppy and Vyacheslav Uzelkov since claiming the belts off Gabriel Campillo.
Shumenov, having paid his dues as a representative of the WBA, will now look at a trident of lucrative contracts from one future hall-0f-famer, one former super middleweight ruler and one undefeated star in his homeland. Promoter Don Chargrin confirmed: “We have three great offers from [Bernard] Hopkins (52,6-2, 32ko), [Mikkel] Kessler (45-2-0, 34ko) and [Nathan] Cleverly (24-0-0, 11ko).”
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Bernard Hopkins suffered a career setback at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City last weekend, his sixth in total as a professional, as he dropped a decision to the younger, taller and faster Chad Dawson, losing his WBC light heavyweight world championship as a result. However, that has not deterred the legendary Philadelphian from continuing his quest to further enhance his pugilistic legacy and ward off father time; a notion backed by the current incumbent Bad Chad.
Hopkins lost by two scores of 117-111 (an accepted points split according to consensus) with one judge seeing a 114-114 tie. As has become typical with a Hopkins performance, Bernard attempted to snuff out any rhythm his opponent attempted to build up and, even though against Dawson this tactic proved relatively successful, Hopkins – the self-styled Old Mongoose – was just too conservative in his own punch output to warrant a greater slice of point pie, especially when compared to the more active Chad.
“I fought hard Saturday night and feel the fight was closer than two of the scores reflected,” Hopkins (52-6-2, 32ko) said, on reflection of the majority decision loss.
Dawson, who now holds the WBC title (his third full championship at 175lbs), now has a number of match-ups available to him including a rematch with Jean Pascal in order to avenge his sole pro defeat, together with an all-American pound-for-pound tussle with super middleweight supremo Andre Ward.
The other belt holders at light heavyweight include Tavoris Cloud who makes a defence of his IBF title in August against Pascal, Beibut Shumenov who champions the WBA belt and is without an opponent and undefeated Welshman Nathan Cleverly, the WBO world titlist.
“Regardless of the result, I will continue my career and challenge any champion in my division,” Hopkins continued. “I might be older, but I don’t feel a decline in my skills or abilities in the ring. I love to fight and am still competing at a level where boxing cannot deny me the opportunity to succeed.”
Dawson concluded that the three other alphabet rulers better watch out: “He can still beat anyone else in our division.”
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Hoping to emulate the veteran pugilists of yesteryear like Archie Moore, reigning WBC and lineal light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2, 32ko) will defend his world honours on Saturday, April 28 at the historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, however, during the promotion, the 47-year-old has elected to refuse to engage in any verbal jousting with 29-year-old challenger Chad Dawson (30-1-0, 17ko).
Dawson, though, has other ideas. The southpaw, a former champion of the IBF and IBO titles with victories over Antonio Tarver (twice), Glen Johnson (twice) and Tomasz Adamek, has already crossed swords with Hopkins; a two round technical knockout in October last year that was later changed to a ‘No Contest’ as B-Hop was unable to continue due to suffering a shoulder injury following a fall.
“The first fight did not go as planned, but I’m confident I was going to win that night,” said Dawson, who then alluded to the possibility that Hopkins was looking for an exit when they last fought but will not be able to find another when they box in New Jersey next month.
“Hopkins is going to have to face his fears,” Bad Chad added. “Bernard tried to run away from me, but here we are again. I’m thrilled about the whole situation. I’m very excited to fight on the East Coast because a lot of my fans will be there to see me live. I know I’ll be ready come fight night.”
Hopkins commented that he will leave the bad-mouthing to Dawson: “Chad can say whatever he wants, but I am not going to trash talk this one. Everyone knows what I am capable of in the ring. They have seen it over 50 times before in the last 20 plus years.”
History-making Hopkins, inspired by Moore, aims to continue to place his name next to the Old Mongoose by making successful defences that belie his elder statesman status.
Moore was 44 years and 190 days when he triumphed over Giulio Rinaldi in 1961, while George Foreman was 46 years and 113 days when he defeated Axel Schulz. Hopkins, though, would surpass both with a win over Dawson: “I absolutely want to prove that I can beat Chad Dawson, another guy that is almost two decades younger than me and I am confident I will on April 28.”