IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KO’s) will be turning 49-years-old on January 15th, and he’s a proven that he’s a unique fighter with his incredible longevity in the sport. Hopkins is still fighting at a high level at 48 in a sport where most fighters are pretty much over-the-hill by the time they’re 35.
Hopkins will be defending his IBF title for the first time this Saturday night against the much younger 30-year-old Karo Murat (25-1-1, 15 KO’s) at the Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. This is Hopkins’ mandatory challenger and there wasn’t any way for him to get around not taking the fight, so you can’t blame Hop for facing a less than spectacular opponent.
Blame it on the International Boxing Federation for ranking Murat at #2 off a wins against opposition like this: Sandro Siproshvili, Otis Griffin and Christian Cruz. Beating those fighters got Murat installed as Hopkins’ mandatory.
You’d like to think that the IBF would be a little more particular when picking out contenders to be a mandatory challenger. It would have been nice if Murat had actually beaten some really top guys in the 175 lb. division such as Sergey Kovalev, Andrzek Fonfara, Lucian Bute, Jean Pascal, Jurgen Braehmer, Tavoris Cloud, Chad Dawson, Tony Bellew, Zsolt Erdei and Isaac Chilemba.
Before beating Siproshvili, Griffin and Cruz to become the IBF’s mandatory for Hopkins, Murat was stopped by Nathan Cleverly in 10 rounds in September 2010. Murat looked really bad in that fight, and was more of a punching bag than a title challenger.
Hopkins said to the Miami Herald “He [Murat] is coming to fight the guy that is 48. Just because the card is a 1965 [the year Hopkins was born], doesn’t mean it’s old. Check the mileage, check the engine, and then check the wear and tear. The year is old but if you check the engine, is like new.”
Hopkins is old, but his opposition is so incredibly bad that it makes him seem young. Hopkins can still beat guys like Murat and Tavoris Cloud. But he was exposed in his loss to Chad Dawson last year, and it’s difficult to see Hopkins hanging with the likes of Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Hopkins to fight those two guys because it’s probably not going to happen. Instead of taking on Kovalev or Stevenson, Hopkins will likely focus on defending his IBF title against the IBF’s top five contenders in the light heavyweight division in Fonfara, Eduard Gutknecht, Cedric Agnew, Dimitri Sukhotsky and Doudou Ngumbu. These five fighters are the IBF’s top five contenders.