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.
Kell Brook will challenge Devon Alexander for the IBF welterweight title at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on May 18. The long-awaited clash between Brook and Alexander has been cancelled twice due to both men succumbing to training injuries, but now ‘The Special One’ from Sheffield and number one rated contender finally gets the chance to face the champion, and he’s determined to rip the title from his hands.
“It’s been a frustrating wait for the fight to be on, but now I’m ready to get in there on May 18 and bring that title home,” said Brook. “We’ve both had to pull out through injury so we are both hungry for the fight, but I believe I will prove I’ve got a bigger appetite for the battle and that I’ll be too good for him.”
St. Louis’ Devon Alexander (24-1, 13ko) has already won world titles in two divisions despite being only 25 years old. Alexander is the former IBF and WBC world title holder at 140 pounds, with wins over Lucas Matthysse, Juan Urango and Junior Witter to his name. In 2012, ‘The Great’ made his move to welterweight and by the time he was finished defeating Marcos Maidana and Randall Bailey, he was crowned the IBF welterweight world champion.
The clash with Brook will be Alexander’s first defence of his IBF crown.
IBF super middleweight titlist and 35-year-old Nottingham native Carl Froch (30-2-0, 22ko) has joined Premiership footballers such as Darren Bent and London 2012 athletes to appear in an HIV awareness campaign launching this month in East London.
The Saving Lives Avengers will feature in posters and leaflets across The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel to promote an innovative offering of routine HIV testing to all patients having blood tests taken in the emergency department. The campaign is a collaboration between Barts Health NHS Trust and Saving Lives, a national HIV awareness charity which enjoys the support of many sporting stars.
The Saving Lives Avengers aim to educate patients and raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and IBF super middleweight champion Froch thinks the role is an important one: “If people like me who are in the public eye can attract attention to a topic which people might otherwise ignore, that can only be a good thing,” he says.
Among the Saving Lives Ambassadors is London-born England and Aston Villa striker, Darren Bent. “You hear a lot of silly claims about taking a test damaging your chances of getting insurance or a mortgage, but it’s not true. Saving Lives is raising awareness about HIV, how we can control it, and how people can live a long and happy life.”
Nationwide, one in four of those with HIV are unaware they are infected, and the area served by The Royal London has an estimated HIV population five times higher than the national average (6 in every 1000 people). The new effort is designed to diagnose the undiagnosed.
“HIV can be symptomless for a long time,” explains Dr Chloe Orkin, the Barts Health HIV Consultant behind the routine testing plan. “That means it’s very easy for people not to be diagnosed until it’s too late for today’s life-saving treatments to have their best effect. People are still dying of HIV in the UK – but only because they test too late.”
The offer of routine testing is unusual, and aims to show that in high-prevalence areas wider HIV testing can have an impact on the numbers of people living with undiagnosed HIV. Currently, patients and their doctors must specifically request a test.
“There’s still a lot of stigma around HIV,” explains Dr Steve Taylor, HIV Specialist at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and Medical Director of Saving Lives. “One of the things our campaigns and sporting advocates help do is correct some commonly-held out-dated myths that perpetuate this stigma which make the lives of people living with HIV very difficult.
Getting tested, looking after your sexual health, education and prevention are what it’s all about. If people have taken risks and by that I simply mean having unprotected sex; then there is every reason to get tested it could save your life.”
London 2012 medal-winning hockey player Sally Walton adds: “Without the test, you run the risk of passing on HIV to your nearest and dearest, and even to potential children through pregnancy. Today’s treatments can help you live a long, healthy life – so there’s no reason not to get a test done.”
A similar campaign conducted at the end of 2012 in Birmingham was cited by 16% of 1800 clinic attendees as part of the reason for taking the test – half of those respondents had no other exposure to sexual health messages in the previous 3 months.
Dan Hartland, Director of Operations for Saving Lives said “We would like to make our Saving Lives Avengers resources available to every City council and Hospital in the country. In this way the hugely expensive costs of such a multimedia campaign featuring stars such as these could be shared and lessened at a time when NHS budgets are very tight, but there is still an urgent need for a new HIV awareness campaign.”
The pilot campaign runs throughout the month of April at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.
Mexican hitman Miguel Vazquez says he’ll be as deadly as fellow countryman and Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez when he faces WBO world lightweight champion Ricky Burns at Wembley Arena. Vazquez, the IBF World Champion, puts his title on the line against Burns in a big unification clash on Saturday, March 16 that also features Nathan Cleverly, George Groves, Dereck Chisora* and Liam Walsh.
Hernandez, currently the only Mexican playing in the Premier League, hails from Guadalajara – the same as Vazquez. Since arriving at the Red Devils in 2010 ‘Chicharito’ has terrorised defences with his speed and accuracy, hitting the net 46 times. He fired home twice in Saturday’s FA Cup match against Fulham.
And Vazquez has promised to make it a Mexican treble by battering the Scotsman and taking his belt: “When I fight Burns, I will be just like Hernandez, a cold and ruthless assassin. There will be no remorse when I’m taking Burns apart,” he said.
“Hernandez is a hero in Mexico, I saw the match on Saturday and I said that is what I have to be like to beat Burns. A striker and a boxer have the same mind set, a striker has to have to the killer instinct to score, the boxer to land a knockout punch, when the opening comes against Burns that will be the end for him.”
Vazquez isn’t worried about facing Burns who destroyed rival Kevin Mitchell – who holds a decision win over Breidis Prescott – in four rounds last time out. Vazquez, though, was the first man to beat hammer-hitting Prescott after the Colombian destroyed Amir Khan inside a round.
He added: “Burns is a good fighter, he is strong, he has good skills and he knocked out Kevin Mitchell which was impressive. But he has never faced a fighter like me before. I’m unbeaten as a world champion at lightweight. I beat a huge puncher in Prescott and he didn’t hurt me, I don’t see how Burns can hurt me. I will be Ricky Burns’ worst nightmare. I’m coming for his world title, his title is as good as mine.”
Burns v Vazquez joint-headlines a blockbuster show with WBO world light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly’s title defence against Robin Krasniqi, plus George Groves challenging for the vacant European super middleweight title, heavyweight Dereck Chisora* and Commonwealth super featherweight champion Liam Walsh.
*Dereck Chisora’s appearance on the show is strictly subject to him being successful with his license application to the British Boxing Board of Control.
Alan Dawson – London
Carl Froch‘s first defence of his IBF super middleweight world title was as swift as it was brutal as he knocked American challenger Yusaf Mack out with an acute body punch in the third round of their confrontation at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Saturday, November 17. Froch’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports, wants only the elite for Froch in 2013 and spoke of potential rematches with Lucian Bute, Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward.
Official verdict: Froch by 3rd Rd TKO.
Boxing with the Stars and Stripes on his trunks and adopting his trademark slick style with his left mitt low, Mack (31-5-2, 17ko) appeared unfazed at the rowdy reception provided by the partisan English crowd. However, like Lucian Bute in May, Mack had no answer when he was bum-rushed by Froch (30-2-0, 22ko) and suffered a flash knockdown in the first round before looking unsteady and ready to fall a second time mere moments from the bell.
Upon replay, though, the knockdown may have been aided by leg entanglement, but Mack’s body language when on his stool between rounds was that of a man who was shocked at the effectiveness of the bombardment he was forced to endure in the opening three minutes.
In the second round, Froch, 35, varied his jabbing to the mouth and to the gut. Midway through the stanza, he threw combinations to the sides of the Philadelphian’s body and, when Mack had his back to the ropes, there was a fan-friendly kerfuffle as both men swapped heavy leather, explosive bombs and egotistical smiles. While Froch got the better of each argument, Mack was no slouch when it came to retaliation and enjoyed most of his success with his left cross.
Froch worked behind his under-rated jab in the third round and his focus was mostly upstairs as Mack’s adapted Philly-Shell guard prevented access to the body. When Mack let his hands go, though, he left his body unprotected and this became his undoing as he was felled for a second time with a tortuous blow just above the belt-line. The decisive flurry included a right to the rib cage, a left to the body and a left to the skull before Mack submitted to his knees and required paramedic attention – perhaps due to broken, or at least severely battered and bruised, ribs.
“I get my body in A-level condition,” said the ageless Froch to Sky Sports 1 following the official announcement of his win. “If anyone comes in below par – that is what happens to them. Physically I feel at my best, I’m smashing my personal bests in training. Mentally, I’m dealing with these opponents. He didn’t come out sharp, I found my range early and them body shots would have hurt.”
Promoter Hearn spoke of Froch’s future: “[Bute and his management have] got to decide whether they want the fight. We’re contractually obliged to go over there [but] I don’t think there is one super middleweight out there – Andre Ward included – who can beat Carl Froch in Nottingham. Bute, [Mikkel] Kessler and Ward. That’s who we want in 2013 and the more fights in Nottingham the better.”
Words: Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Photo: Team Klitschko
Dominant IBF/IBO/WBO/WBA heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko (58-3-0, 51ko), 36, extended his undefeated run to 16 wins on the spin, incorporating 13 by way of knockout and 12 title defences during that spell as, on Saturday, July 7 at the Stade de Suisse in Berne, Switzerland, he halted mandatory challenger and tall southpaw Tony Thompson (36-3-0, 24ko) in the sixth round.
On The Beak – Admin
InterBox and Lucian Bute met with media representatives at the Cage aux Sports restaurant in the Montreal Bell Centre earlier this week. Team InterBox revisited Lucian’s last bout on May 26 and revealed the future plans for Lucian and Carl Froch. Below, is a detailed resume of declarations by Lucian Bute, InterBox president Jean Bedard, Matchroom Boxing president Eddie Hearn and head trainer Stephan Larouche.
- That was not the real Lucian Bute in that Nottingham ring last May, 26. I spent the last few weeks reflecting about what went wrong, what happened, and the only thing that is crystal clear in my mind is that I want my rematch with Carl Froch as soon as possible.
- I am convinced the loss was due to critical errors on my part and that I will beat him.
- I did not use my primary weapons of speed and my jab at all during the fight. I fought Carl Froch’s fight instead of dictating the pace and forcing him to fight my fight.
- It was a bad night for me in Nottingham. A nightmare, really. I lost my IBF belt, my perfect record and I suffered a hard loss.
- I cannot wait to step back into the ring. I am already back at the gym training. I feel fresh, in good spirits, my health is very good and my goal and motivation is to prove to myself and to everyone that [my] last [fight] was just a bad day at the office.
- I do not want to take anything away from Carl Froch’s accomplishment. He was the better man that night. He was hungrier and more motivated and he won. But now I have to look ahead. My promoter Jean Bedard, my coach Stephan Larouche and I have had numerous serious discussions and we have established a plan that I am very comfortable with. In the next two fights I will erase the bad memory from my mind and from the minds of my fans.
- There is no hiding the fact that the result was hard on everyone. But even in defeat, in the locker room after the fight and the days following the loss, I still felt Lucian had the fire in his belly to come back stronger and demand his rematch with Froch.
- Lucian was in my office the morning after his return from Romania to reaffirm his intentions. He looked me straight in the eyes and asked me to set the plan we detailed with him and Stephan in motion.
- In all likelihood Lucian will box in Montreal or Quebec this Fall. However, it is also not out of the question that Lucian make his November ring return in Romania. We are already in discussions with an opponent and have sent them an offer.
- We do have a rematch clause with Matchroom Boxing, which could have been a direct rematch bout no matter the outcome. Matchroom Boxing is a great organisation to work with and I have been speaking to Eddie once or twice a week since [the defeat]. I almost know his number by heart. We decided together that in the interest of effectively promoting the rematch, Lucian and Carl would fight in separate events and that we will coordinate our efforts for both to fight on the same day, in November. We agreed the Bute/Froch rematch would take place on March 16th or March 23rd at the Montreal Bell Centre.
- The Carl Froch v Lucian Bute fight has already gone down as one of the greatest fights in British boxing history. It generated record audiences and a sold-out arena that were treated to what many respected pundit and fighters have described as one of the greatest atmosphere’s ever.
- Carl put in an incredible performance and against all odds recaptured a world title. Both Carl, I and the people of Great Britain have the utmost respect for Lucian for first accepting the challenge to come to England but also the manner in which he accepted defeat.
- Like any fighter, I’m sure Lucian would like an opportunity to avenge this defeat as per our agreement he has the opportunity to try and make that happen. Together with Jean Bedard we have agreed in the interest of both fighters that we will have an ‘interim’ fight and then look to rematch in March 2013. I’m sure this will build into another huge fight and will do record numbers in Canada.
- Team Bute has been analysing all factors and circumstances pertaining to the May 26 bout, including Lucian`s preparation.
- As Lucian confirmed earlier, he is already back in the gym. We want to make sure he stays in great shape.
- We will not be “starting from zero” with Lucian. I want to make it clear to everyone that Lucian did not lose the fight because he was over trained, or not ready. He lost that fight because of several small mistakes that combined gave all the advantage to Carl Froch.
- We are not looking for an “easy touch” for the November fight. We are looking for, and have possibly found, an opponent that will test Lucian and give him a difficult fight. I want Lucian to be tested, to work, and to step out of his comfort zone as well.
Alan Dawson – London
In a bout that contained two contrasting halves, Kell Brook survived a fight of the year nominee to land himself a potential shot at the IBF welterweight world title. On Saturday, June 7 at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, Brook was punch perfect for six rounds yet seemed to have emptied his tank as Carson Jones came on strong in the latter half, mashed Kell’s nose up and made a strong case for the draw…
Official verdict: Brook by way of majority decision (116-113, 116-113, 114-114).
With the backing of a 10,000 strong reception in Yorkshire, Brook (28-0-0, 18ko) boxed perfectly in round one, rendering Jones’ output redundant as the American came forward in a one-paced manner which thus allowed Brook to move effortlessly around his opponent and pump two, three and four punch combinations into Carson’s frame. Jones (34-9-2, 24ko) entered the bout as the power puncher with the kayo threat but on first impressions it was The Special One who was able to penetrate Jones’ guard, rumble him with uppercuts and deft left hooks and generally make himself a nuisance.
In the subsequent rounds, Brook fought behind his jab and using the shot to introduce body shots and uppercuts. The Englishman also produced an extremely competent and tight defence, making Jones miss, which was not good for Carson as the visiting pugilist was not even active. At the end of the third round, Brook received raucous applause and noise from his numerous fans for his aggression, however, there were few shots that were clean as Jones diverted shots with his arms.
While Jones got his act together in the fourth, it was Brook who finished in the more commanding position as Carson’s enhanced work-rate allowed Kell to show off his slickness, his counter-punching ability and his shoulder-roll. While Jones concentrated on Brook’s midsection, the home fighter was more varied… and double-jabbed with precision. In the fifth round, Jones boxed more positively, yet this opened him up and Brook clubbed hooks around Jones’ guard, shook up the American’s foundations and genuinely hurt his man. Jones came back at Kell for what was left in the round, sticking Brook into the red corner but Kell’s defence troubled Carson as he struggled to land anything of significance.
Jones’ limitations were further exposed in round six. Carson’s guard was ineffectual as, when Brook teed off, he was easily able to separate Jones’ high guard and land – with aplomb – straight right punches into the mush, however, he lost round seven. Brook’s work-rate was on the wane, he fought in a fatigued fashion and Jones perturbed him from action, forcing Kell to resort to headlocking him with a left arm in order to dilute the inside tussle.
Brook’s sudden lack of interest in the fight worried his corner so much that head coach Dominic Ingle poured an ice bucket over his head prior to the eighth in order to wake his charge up, however, this did not produce the desired effect as Jones went on to bloody Brook’s nose and score a cut to the side of the eye. The famed power of the American fighter, one year Brook’s junior, was finally revealed as he battled Brook into corners and rocked his head back repeatedly yet Brook closed the round with a peach of a countering uppercut which demonstrated that he still had something to offer with four rounds remaining.
With a nose leaking profusely and with blood smeared all over his philtrum, Brook showed an aggression in the tenth that had disappeared from his game from rounds six to nine and he got the crowd back on his side by attacking Jones in a positive 20 seconds of action before backpedaling, countering with right hands but having to take punishment from Carson who battled back convincingly in the final 30 seconds of the session.
Brook’s attempts to switch to the southpaw stance did little to confuse Carson, who was able to see the portside jab coming and parry it with his high glove. Those half-hearted jabs were all Kell seemed to have in the penultimate round whilst Jones continued to torture Brook’s body. The Brit’s defence abandoned him further in the final stanza and Jones genuinely troubled and hurt Brook before the referee separated the pair. If the fight had another round to go, Jones could have secured a stoppage finish, however, after the 12 round distance, Brook eked out a narrow victory on points.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
In a fight filled with excessive holding, wanton wrestling and a finish that was punctuated with lowblows, Cornelius Bundrage knocked Cory Spinks down numerous times en route to a seventh round technical knockout at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California on Saturday, June 30. Following the official announcement of his triumph, Bundrage expressed his desire to unify his IBF junior middleweight belt with Saul Alvarez’s WBC title.
Official verdict: Bundrage via 7th Rd TKO.
Bundrage’s best weapon was established early as a succession of tough right hands all landed but, midway through the first round, Spinks began to employ head movement in order to duck under the shot. When it came to attacking, Spinks struggled to press the trigger and his most notable contribution to the fight was lifting Bundrage up for a few seconds, prompting the referee to pull them apart. Moments later, Spinks was dropped with an overhand right, recovered, but for the second time in three minutes the pair decided to abandon the discipline they had trained in and instead wrestled.
In round two, Spinks clinched and, in retaliation, Bundrage got Cory headlocked with a free arm and both moves contributed to the souring of the sweet science. It took a knockdown, some MMA-style grappling and five minutes of taking Bundrage’s shots for Spinks to finally box positively and connected with an orthodox jab followed by a body-bound left.
Bundrage relied on single-fire jabbing at the start of round three and this contributed to the swelling on the right eye of Spinks. The often spoken pugilistic mantra of keep yourself protected at all times was something that went AWOL in Spinks’ mind in round four as he left his chin hanging, which allowed Bundrage to score with a hellacious uppercut and a bomb of a hook.
Spinks secured his first big round in the fifth, landing damaging left hands, right hooks, targeting the body and finishing the session with a huge straight. Bundrage had slowed considerable and this allowed Spinks to gain momentum, something that irked Bundrage’s head cornerman Emmanuel Steward who shouted: “You’re stumbling around like a goddam drunk,” as well as: “You’re letting him get his confidence back!”
The success Bundrage enjoyed with his right hand early on had fizzled out by the end of the sixth as his accuracy had gone. While Spinks’ could not brag the power of Bundrage, his inside fighting was superior and won him the round.
Any momentum Spinks had built up in the fifth and sixth was stolen away from him in the seventh as Bundrage twice dropped Spinks, both times with acute right hands. Cornelius had relocated his accuracy with the punch and Spinks was beaten around the ring, falling to the canvas another two times, yet both were adjudged to not be the result of a punch. With 26 seconds remaining on the round, the referee waved the bout off as Bundrage was literally chasing and battering his man, with little intention to reply let alone throw anything back.
“I want Canelo [Alvarez],” proclaimed Bundrage, hoping to be the man to fill the TBA slot next to Saul’s name for the popular Mexican’s slated prizefight on September 15.
Overall, the bout was not pretty, neither was the pummeling Cory received in the seventh and final stanza but Bundrage did enough to claim his second win in his series with Spinks. With a knockout victory, the Iron Man Bundrage saw his record rise to 32-4-0, 19ko and, while the announcement was made, Cornelius – in what had become his signature – barked into the air, mimicking an animal who would be more likely to fight cleaner.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Randall Bailey went from journeyman to champion on Saturday, June 9 as, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, he came from behind on the scorecards to score two stunning knockdowns at the expense of Mike Jones. Welterweight contender Jones had been boxing tentatively for the majority of the fight but accumulated the superior scores in most rounds, yet Bailey’s brutal power – when it was finally unleashed – changed the landscape of the contest.
Official verdict: Bailey by way of 11th round TKO.
“Nobody knows what it takes for me to prepare and do what I do,” a sobbing, yet triumphant, Bailey – with the IBF welterweight championship belt proudly tied around his waist – told HBO after his victory. He added: “Mike Jones is tough, take nothing away from him. I love my team. It’s [the power] my God’s gift, my mom’s a fighter, so this came naturally. [When the second knockdown happened I thought] stay down, Mike, please! He’s a big dude, man!”
Bailey’s Hollywood finish transpired after what had been bland viewing beforehand as Jones boxed with caution in the opening rounds, relinquishing the centre of the ring to opponent Bailey (43-7-0, 37ko) who was the clear aggressor at the start of combat. Known for his penchant of throwing punches in bunches, Jones’ output on fight night was in stark contrast to his reputation and this was not lost on the crowd who booed his approach within four minutes of boxing.
Jones was finally more active in round three, however, any positivity to his approach was offset by a clinch-and-grab method that followed any punches that landed. Such a tactic, against a boxer famed for his punch power, was perhaps evidence he was paying too much respect to his opponent’s best asset – the right hand. Both fighters, though, were responsible for what was a largely uninteresting fight as neither man was landing enough to do any damage (aside from a mark to Bailey’s eye).
In the middle rounds, Bailey’s one-dimensional boxing and the over-reliance on the right hand were two weaknesses that Jones failed to capitalise on as the undefeated Philadelphian showed a clear lack of aggression, neglected the jab but – crucially when it came to scoring – was doing just that little bit more than Bailey by landing a little more often.
Some excitement finally arrived in the ninth round when Jones attacked each side of the body in equal measure prior to planting one on the face, however, he did not follow up on that success, took a step back and ended up getting jabbed in the mouth by Bailey. A similar situation occurred in the tenth round as Jones again showed a five second period of pressure but couldn’t cope with Randall’s retaliation as Bailey canvassed him with a straight right.
It says much of both Bailey’s power and his limitations that his only meaningful contributions to 11 rounds of action were the two punches he landed in rounds ten and 11. In the penultimate round, he launched an uppercut underneath a Jones jab. It caught Jones off-guard, cracked his nose, turned his lights off and put him flat on his back with his eye-lids shut. For most fighters that would be goodnight, but Jones showed fair recovery as he opened his eyes and attempted to get to his fight on the count of four but his legs failed him completely and he was counted out.
“I’m a tough man, I’ll be back,” Jones (26-1-0, 19ko) said defiantly in defeat. “I got caught with a clean shot, he was the better man tonight… I’ll be back. I got careless in the later rounds, but I have no excuses. He won.”