Hopkins didn’t follow his usual plan, but pounded Murat all the same. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC CITY — Three thoughts on Bernard Hopkins’s unanimous decision win over Karo Murat…
First, the good
As Bernard Hopkins fights go, this one, in front of a crowd of 6,324 at Boardwalk Hall, was entertaining. After a slow start that featured more cheap shots than clean ones (more on that below), it looked like we were in for another rough and tumble Hopkins show. But in the middle stages, the fight picked up. Instead of clutching and grabbing, Hopkins began to stand and trade. He stood toe-to-toe with Murat — who, it should be noted, does not have great power — and blasted away. In the eighth round, Hopkins stood in Murat’s corner, turned and started talking to ringside announcers, all while Murat teed off. Hopkins responded with flush landing flurries, connecting on 184 of his 373 power punches (49 percent), per CompuBox, while a weary Murat struggled to keep up. It was a rare slugfest from a fighter who has spent his entire career outthinking and outpointing opponents in the ring.
Said Murat, “Bernard is a good boxer.”
Now, the ugly
Referee Steve Smoger – -one of the most respected officials in the business — took one point away during the fight, from Murat, after a punch during the break. He could have taken away 20. Hopkins hit during the break, hit after the bell and threw a knee into Murat’s midsection during one exchange. Murat hit Hopkins when he was down, hit him during the clench and finished the fight with a pair of head butts the old Hopkins would have been proud of. It was a tough situation for Smoger; do you take away points on every foul, or do you let the two of them even each other out? Smoger chose the latter.
Hopkins has waging a steady p.r. campaign to get a shot at Floyd Mayweather, saying he was ready, willing and able to get down to 160-pounds if Mayweather was willing to move up. But while it’s fun to talk about — Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said the promotion could be called “50-50,” with Mayweather inching towards 50 wins and Hopkins nearing 50 years of age — but it’s simply not realistic. Could Hopkins make 160? Maybe. Would Mayweather want to fight a guy that could rehydrate up to 180 pounds? Unlikely.
“I’m going to talk to Floyd and his team, and we’ll see,” Schaefer said. “Floyd is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He decides where he wants to fight, when he wants to fight and who he wants to fight.”
The reality is that Hopkins is likely to stay at light heavyweight, where he does have options. Golden Boy recently signed 175-pound titleholder Beibut Shumenov, who will fight on Showtime on December 14th. If Shumenov wins, a unification fight with Hopkins is easy to make. Making fights with light heavyweight titleholders Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson — two fighters who have pledged allegiance to HBO, which doesn’t do business with Golden Boy — is more problematic, but those are issues for another day.
– Chris Mannix