It appears that fans anticipating Bernard Hopkins' first defense of his IBF Light Heavyweight championship belt will have to wait awhile. His scheduled defense against Karo Murat has reportedly been canceled.
According to Boxingscene.com, the fight has been called off due to visa issues. The matchup was supposed to headline a televised Showtime card at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. on July 13.
Boxingscene also reports that Murat has launched an appeal, but the entire card will be canceled.
Richard Schaefer states that Murat launched an appeal over his visa denial but the process will take too long, the whole card is canceled.— Boxing Scene.com (@boxingscene) June 14, 2013
Murat, who boasts a record of 25-1-1, became Hopkins' mandatory challenger after scoring a seventh-round TKO victory over Sandro Siproshvili. Now it appears that he may have lost his shot for good. According to Boxingscene, Hopkins is likely eyeing a September date against another challenger.
Who should Hopkins fight next?
It is believed that Hopkins, who recently set the record for boxing's oldest champion at 48, is targeting a unification bout with any of three titlists—Adonis Stevenson, Nathan Cleverly or Beibut Shumenov.
At 21-1, Stevenson is the only light heavyweight to rank ahead of Hopkins in ESPN's light heavyweight rankings. He's also without a fight currently after an impressive first-round knockout of Chad Dawson to win the WBC and The Ring title.
Cleverly, who is 26-0, has been the WBO light heavyweight champion since 2011. He should also be available as he doesn't currently have a fight scheduled.
Hopkins broke his own historical record by defeating Tavoris Cloud via unanimous decision in March. Hopkins previously held the record at age 46 when he defeated Jean Pascal via unanimous decision.
Now, at 48, it's clear that he wants to remain as active as possible while he can still fight at a championship level.