The always entertaining Bernard Hopkins got on a roll on a Thursday conference call to hype the Oct. 26* Golden Boy card which unfolds at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, and portions of which will run on Showtime (9 PM ET).
He will meet Karo Murat on that night, but as Murat seemingly isn't in the same class sphere as the pugilistic sage nonpareil, the 48 1/2 year old got cooking about a theoretical fight with Floyd Mayweather, at 160 pounds, and the disrespect shown to fighters who engage in more “sweet science” than brawling.
Hopkins (53-6-2 with 32 KOs) joined the call after Murat and company had the floor.
In a response to my question, Hopkins said that he was asked about a fight against Mayweather recently, so he answered the bigwig who posed the potentiality to him that he'd be open to it. He said he could make 160 pounds if given enough notice, for a May 2014 fight, and that he likes his chances to test Floyd. (The last time Hopkins fought at 160 was way back in 2005, against Jermain Taylor, for the record.) Nobody in their 20s and 30s can test him, he said. But he could, and the promotion would be incredibly exciting. “That's the reason I threw my hat in there,” he said. He said he's six pounds from his weight max now. At middleweight, that glorious division..imagine the possibilities, he said.
I got some friendly flak on Twitter from another media member for asking the question, which he termed absurd, but Hopkins himself touched on that when he said the bigwig who posed the superfight to him “sure didn't look like he was joking.”
I followed up with Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza, wondering if talking about that potential fight is “absurd.”
“No,” he told me. “And if Bernard keeps saying it, you are perfectly justified in asking it.”
He then got on a roll about people not caring for the sweet science. He said Ray Robinson and Leonard would both be considered “boring” today, because too many people crave tradefests. He thinks that the glorification of the Gatti-Ward HBO doc might be bad, because it will encourage young fighters to take too many risks. He is testament, he said, that there is more than one way to stand out in the game, and he lobbied hard for his method, which prizes not getting hit as much as hitting, in order to retain brain cells. (Great point, though I'd point out that he gets tremendous respect from a huge swath of media and fans, and is quite well compensated for doing his thing. Now, will his legacy be the same as those of men like Gatti, who is more willing, for whatever reason, to give parts of themselves in the ring to entertain fans? That remains to be seen. Is it “fair” that we marvel at the manner in which an Arturo Gatti and a Micky Ward ply their trade, and don't marvel in the same way at the way a Hopkins or an Andre Ward does? Perhaps not..But it is what it is. In general, the most reward goes to those who risk the most. I personally have high regard for each method of combat.)
Hopkins said the best lesson he's learned is to never take anyone lightly, which he took from “The Art of War,” a book he liked while in prison.
Murat, the challenger whose chances are being universally dismissed, is a German resident. His promoter, Kalle Sauerland, was present on the call. The German spoke perfect English; he said Murat's been with Sauerland since 2006, and has earned the right to fight Hopkins. Karo has promised him, he said, that he won't show respect to the 48-year-old. “We believe in our man Karo Murat,” he said.
Murat (25-1- with 15 KOs), born in Irag in 1983, said he likes his chances against Hopkins, who debuted in 1988 as a pro. And does Hopkins look 48 to him? He said he appreciates his accomplishments, but Hopkins “doesn't have the speed anymore” and the mileage is apparent on him. He said his white hair and gray beard are evidence of that. In Hopkins' last fight, against Tavoris Cloud, he said he saw a man looking to land one punch, and clinch. Hopkins was asked about these assertions. The elder said his info isn't correct. “I'm already up four rounds on him,” he said, because Murat has gotten bad intel. Also, “gray is wisdom,” he said. Pavlik, Cloud, these guys figured that out after the fact. As a middleweight, he didn't clinch so much. Can he stop him from clinching? He won't divulge how he will do so, he said. But he will do so, he promised.
He touched on his background some. He started boxing at age 13, one year after he came from Iraq, he said. He went with his brothers, he recalled. He won and got in touch with the Sauerland crew.
Murat, who will be fighting for the first time in the US, was asked about potentially overtraining, considering fights for him have been scheduled and then cancelled lately. He said that won't be an issue at all.
Axel Schultz came over here many moons ago, and fought George Foreman, and was not shown love by the judges. True fans know what Schultz did, he said. “I'm hoping for an impartial referee, and judges and the rest is up to me,” he said.
Golden Boy COO Bruce Binkow took part in the call. He noted that there will be a presser next Wednesday in NYC. He said tix are still available for the Hopkins card. Also, Saturday at 4 PM, he said there will be a presser to hype the Dec. 9 Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana faceoff.
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*=Peter Quillin will defend his middleweight title, against Gabe Rosado, on the card. Check out this short video of Quillin talking about his path to today here.