Ageless Hopkins Triumphs Over Murat.
By Tyson Bruce
Atlantic City, NJ—IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (54-6) lived up to his newly acquired alien moniker, by turning back the clock to defeat game fringe contender Karo Murat (25-2) in dominant fashion.
The fight, which had very low expectations going in, actually surpassed even the most hopeful expectations. While there was certainly a lot of fouling on the part of both men, the relatively fast pace and often comedic actions on the part of Hopkins made it a more than a tolerable affair.
The fight started out in a very slow and deliberate fashion, with Murat pressing forward but mostly missing and Hopkins waiting patiently trying to get his timing down. Watching the first few rounds, it wasn’t clear whether Hopkins was capable of still pulling the proverbial trigger, and Murat looked determined to put the pressure on, despite not always very effectively.
The fight turned comedic in the fifth round when Hopkins, after turning Murat in a clinch, actually kissed Murat on the back of the neck and head. Was this a street tactic designed to frustrate and humiliate Murat? Regardless, it was a bizarre incident that put the Brooklyn crowd into hysterics. It also marked the point in the bout where Hopkins began to find his rhythm and land his trademark counter right hands and body shots.
In a wild sixth round Murat, who fought a deliberately dirty fight throughout, intentionally hit Hopkins twice while he was on the mat from a slip. Implausibly, referee Steve Smoger gave Murat a stern warning but didn’t take away any points. This, however, only seemed to ignite Hopkins who stunned Murat in the seventh round, and then was the benefactor of a point deduction when Murat hit him on the break. This set the cadence for what was a very up-tempo (by the recent standards of recent Hopkins bouts) second half of the fight. Uncharacteristically, Hopkins was very aggressive and regularly threw in combination causing a cut over Murat’s eye, as well as landing precise body shots that caused Murat to noticeably tire in the later rounds.
In the twelfth and final round Hopkins, eighteen years Murat’s senior, lived up to his prefight boasts and attempted to go for the stoppage victory. He stunned Murat with a right hand and hit him with a barrage of punches against the ropes. Murat attempted a few more big swings but he was a spent force. In a display of very poor character Murat appeared to twice deliberately head butt Hopkins, in an act that reflected the desperate actions of a beaten man.
In the end Hopkins prevailed by scores of 119-108, 119-108 and 117-110, with this observer scoring the bout 116-111 also for Hopkins. The scores, for once, accurately reflected the one-sided action of the fight.
In his interview with the always insufferable Jim Gray, Hopkins’s stated that he prevailed because he was in fact an alien, and that all of the other titleholders at light heavyweight were paper champions and that he was the best fighter in the division. As impressive as Hopkins is for a 48-year-old man and taking into account that he was still basking in his victory, this proclamation was ludicrous and unfounded. Hopkins became the oldest lineal champion in the history of the sport when he defeated Jean Pascal but then he lost his title to Chad Dawson in convincing fashion. Subsequently, Adonis Stevenson flattened Chad Dawson is less than one round, making him the guy who beat the guy, who beat the guy—crowning him, not Hopkins, the top dog in the division.
So, where does Hopkins go from here? He has stated his desire to fight the other top fighters in the division, but the “cold war” will prevent any of those bouts from being made in the near future. The fight with Floyd Mayweather, despite both fighters being with Golden Boy and Showtime, remains a pipe dream with many divisions of weight separating that fight from being a logical reality. Despite the fact that he continues to win, time is not on his side, and his search for one last super fight may not come to fruition before his seemingly ageless body finally gives way.