Boxing’s ageless wonder is set to astound us again on Saturday night from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. At 48 years old, Bernard Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KO) will defend his IBF light heavyweight title against Karo Murat (25-1-1, 15 KO). Even if he loses, the fact that Hopkins is still competing at this level of the sport pushing 50 is remarkable
He is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over Tavoris Cloud in March to capture the title. Hopkins looked as good as he has in years. While some may be expecting to see Hopkins fall off, he showed no signs of slowing down against Cloud.
Murat is a 30-year-old veteran from Iraq, who is based in Germany. This will be his first fight in the United States. He has been in the ring with the likes of Gabriel Campillo and Nathan Cleverly, but Hopkins represents a step up in competition and name recognition.
Can Hopkins continue his historic run? Here’s how you can watch.
When: Saturday, Oct. 26, at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Replay Stream: Showtime Anytime (Pay Service)
Defying Father Time
In many ways, Hopkins is one of the most remarkable athletes in the world. We marvel at fighters who can compete at a high level when they approach their 40s, but Hopkins is a legit world champion 14-plus months short of his 50th birthday.
In a brutal sport where longevity is difficult to attain, Hopkins has not only survived, he has flourished. His natural boxing instincts and sharp defense are the biggest reason for his long-lasting success.
While he’s already done enough to qualify as an unquestioned Hall of Famer when he finally decides to call it a career, another win will only add to his legend.
Ready to Conquer a Legend
Murat understands and acknowledges Hopkins’ accomplishments in the sport, but he won't be star struck. He told Anson Wainwright of Ring TV:
He has so much experience on his side. You cannot be that successful at that kind of age he is without the wisdom he possesses. However, all good things come to an end, which he will have to realize after Oct. 26.
Murat defeated Sandro Siproshvili by seventh-round TKO in his last bout. This was hardly a big-time victory, though.
Siproshvili has lost five of his last six fights. Prior to that, Murat drew with the veteran Campillo. Based on recent performances, it would appear Hopkins has the edge—unless of course this is finally the night Hopkins shows his age.
Over the last five years, Chad Dawson is the only man who has handed Hopkins a loss. Can Murat become the next man to accomplish the feat?
The challenger is a mechanical, plodding fighter with moderately good power. He works behind the jab and doesn’t possess a ton of speed. His style is generally to wait back in an effort to counter his opponent.
This approach may not mesh well with Hopkins’ defensive style from a fan’s standpoint. The champion is a notorious slow starter, so the early rounds could be uneventful. In Hopkins’ last bout, he showed a willingness to trade and the ability to take a shot. If he does open up against Murat, he’ll be smart and pick his spots to score.
Even at 48, Hopkins’ instincts, timing and experience should allow him to get off first once he has seen what Murat brings to the table. As in-ring IQ’s go, only Floyd Mayweather Jr. is in Hopkins’ league in the current landscape of the sport.
Because Murat doesn’t possess the speed or power to supersede Hopkins’ qualities, he’ll use his intangible advantages to grab another win.
Look for Hopkins to win a unanimous decision.
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