Bernard Hopkins (above) could return to action in March in an attempt to break his record as the oldest boxer to win a major world title. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
Some quick jabs …
• All indications are Bernard Hopkins — who will celebrate his 48th birthday next month — will return to the ring in March against IBF light heavyweight titleholder Tavoris Cloud at the Barclays Center. Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told SI.com that Hopkins, who was wiped out by Chad Dawson last April, called him “out of the blue” a few months ago and told him, “I know I can still fight, I know I can still win.”
“Cloud-Hopkins is an interesting fight,” Schaefer said. “He’s a young, undefeated guy going up against legend like Bernard Hopkins. Bernard feels like it [Cloud] is the perfect style for him. He feels confident he can beat his own record and win another title. Stylistically, it’s an interesting matchup.”
According to Schaefer, the last remaining obstacle in making the fight is the IBF. Cloud has a mandatory title defense due against Karo Murat. Schaefer says he has submitted a request to the IBF, with the blessing of Sauerland Event (which promotes Murat) and Don King (Cloud), that outlines a scenario where the winner of Hopkins-Cloud will defend the title against Murat in the next fight.
• Wondering why Sergio Martinez is fighting Martin Murray in Argentina next month? Money, a truckload of it. According to sources familiar with the situation, the Argentine government is paying Martinez $5 million to hold his next fight in his home country. Martinez’s popularity in Argentina has grown exponentially in recent years, but monetizing a fight there, where a live gate wouldn’t generate much income, has been considered problematic. With the government offering that kind of guarantee, it becomes worth it.
• Schaefer said he hoped to resolve the futures of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Robert Guerrero by the first week in January. Both Alvarez and Guerrero are candidates to face Floyd Mayweather in May. Recently, Alvarez, on his official Facebook page, posted that a Mayweather fight was close to being completed.
“Canelo is very much pushing for a Mayweather fight,” Schaefer said. “I’m working on it. I have to see what i can deliver for Canelo. There is a lot of work still to be done.”
The most appealing option, from Golden Boy’s perspective, is to match Mayweather with Guerrero, Alvarez with Austin Trout or Alfredo Angulo and if both win make Mayweather-Alvarez in September.
• The California State Athletic commission is reaching out to boxers who may be eligible for a $5.1 million pension fund. To qualify, a boxer must be at least 50 years old, have fought at least 10 rounds a year for four years without more than a three-year break, and had a minimum of 75 scheduled professional rounds without a break of three years or more.
“The Athletic Commission wants to locate eligible boxers in order to pay them the benefits they have rightfully accrued,” said State Athletic Commission executive officer Andy Foster. “Any assistance in getting the word out would be greatly appreciated and would be a service to the athletes who gave so much to entertain the people of the State of California.”
• The assault on Getty Images photographer Al Bello by two members of Manny Pacquiao’s team — advisor Michael Koncz and assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez — was despicable. Photographs clearly show Bello, carrying two cameras, being grabbed and kicked by Koncz and Fernandez while in a precarious position outside the ring. Getty Images has requested further action be taken against Koncz and Fernandez, and I agree with them. A fine and/or a suspension is in order. What I don’t agree with is Getty seeking sanctions against Pacquiao, who had just been knocked out when the assault happened and clearly had nothing to do with it.
• Don’t be surprised if Andre Ward’s super middleweight title defense against Kelly Pavlik gets pushed into early or mid-March. Indications I’m getting are that Ward’s shoulder, while not torn, is pretty bad and could require extended time to heal.
• Farewell, Larry Merchant. For 35 years you were a credit to the sport. Here’s hoping you stay in it, in some capacity.
• As long as Nonito Donaire is represented by Top Rank and Abner Mares by Golden Boy, that fight will never, ever happen.
• Schaefer said he spoke to promoter Frank Warren again on Monday and that negotiations continue for a February matchup between lightweights Adrien Broner and Ricky Burns. Schaefer called the talks with Warren “promising.”
• On the undercard of Broner-Burns, Schaefer said, would be the rematch between Seth Mitchell and Johnathan Banks. Last month, Banks knocked out the undefeated Mitchell in the second round. When I asked Schaefer if there had been internal discussions about taking Mitchell easing his way back into the ring, he indicated the decision to take the immediate rematch was Mitchell’s decision.
“Seth and his team pushed for the rematch,” Schaefer said. “It’s obviously not an easy fight. For Seth, it’s do or die. He needs to show he can beat a guy like Banks. if he can’t win against Banks, it tells you a lot.”
• Schaefer confirmed that 41-year old Shane Mosley — who has not won a fight since 2009 and has been retired since taking a lopsided beating from Alvarez last May — is a candidate to face WBA welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi. If that fight is made, it shouldn’t come anywhere near a television network.
• Boxing’s return to network TV last Saturday was a success. According to Golden Boy, the CBS card headlined by Leo Santa Cruz’s bantamweight title defense against Alberto Guevara did an overnight rating of 1.3, retaining 90 percent of the audience that watched Butler’s overtime win over Indiana before it. Boxing will be back on network TV this week, this time on NBC, with the rematch between Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham.
– Chris Mannix