Boxing

Bernard Hopkins: Sultan is Next Heavyweight Champion of the World

ibragimov08.03.07 - By Scoop Malinowski: Bernard Hopkins was in New York yesterday afternoon, performing as promoter for one of Golden Boy's top boxing talents, the WBO's no. 1 ranked heavyweight Sultan Ibragimov. Hopkins took the two-hour Amtrak trek from Philadelphia to attend the Ibragimov-Javier Mora press conference at Gallagher's Steakhouse and had some interesting comments about Sultan and the heavyweight division.

"The heavyweight division is so confused, nobody really knows but two people," said the living legend who will fight Winky Wright on HBO PPV in July. "They know one because he's eight-feet tall and then you have another that has an outside personality that's a lot different than the norm of a fighter and that's the Klitschko's education background."

"Saying that, people do know the premier guys of the heavyweight division but it's still in chaos, to be solved as times goes on. No one has really stood out. During the Tyson era, we knew Tyson was the heavyweight champion. During the Holyfield era we knew Holyfield was the champ. The same with Riddick Bowe..."

Hopkins had to be reminded to not forget the man who beat Tyson, Holyfield and Bowe in the Olympics. "Lennox Lewis - definitely Lennox Lewis. Thank you for reminding me. We knew who the heavyweight champion was. Now you can start a debate. For a couple of months. Maybe a year. Maybe longer. Where we can do a unification. Let's put all the marbles on the table and see who has the best fighter between the promoter and gamble on that guy's talent."

"If we really want to bring credibility and excitement back to boxing - from the heavyweight division to the lower weights - you have to create a buzz that's gonna be beneficial for everybody in the long run. We all have to gamble to be successful."

This point shows why Hopkins and De La Hoya and their Golden Boy operations are poised to become the top promoter in the sport of boxing. They really, truly care about the well-being of the sport - unlike certain other promoter(s) who perpetually avoid gambling on unification because they know their pawns will be mutilated by the Klitschko brothers.

As Hopkins continued, he expressed an almost 100% certainty that Ibragimov would destroy Briggs later this year. "The state of the heavyweight division is not as bad as last year. After our guy wins the title from Briggs, then we can have a tournament - if the politics let it happen."

When asked what about Ibragimov caught his attention to provoke Golden Boy to sign the little-known but talented Russian, Hopkins said: "His record. His fights that I've seen - not the big fights. His Olympic background, amateur background - silver medalist in the Olympics. We also looked at Chazz Witherspoon and Gerald Nobles. When you can get a guy that's right there. Can fight. Not there because of politics. Having the Olympic background. Unbeaten. He's a fight away from being champion."

"We are promoters. Every promoter wants to be in the heavyweight division. This is our first crack at it. That's why my attention was on what I consider the next heavyweight champion of the world."

###

Hopkins presence may have overshadowed Saturday's participants who don't exactly possess the most electric personalities but still beneath all the humility and respect for each other, there were some fighting words spoken:

Javier Mora (21-3-1): "I didn't come to just take the fight. I come here to win. It's gonna be a good fight. I'm hoping I leave with my hands up."

Article posted on 08.03.2007



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