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Bernard Hopkins Talks Floyd Mayweather Fight, Making 160 Pounds

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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.

Follow Michael Woods on Twitter.

*=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.

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Tanaka vs. Kimora: A Monday Morning Treat For Serious Fight Fans

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Kosei Tanaka was just 4-0 the first time he was appraised on The Sweet Science back in 2015; the question then was, is Tanaka the world’s brightest boxing prospect? The question now is whether or not Tanaka is about to add a strap at a third weight to an already glittering career that has seen him annex belts at 105 and 108lbs in just his first eight fights.

Now 11-0 with seven knockouts he prepares, this coming Monday, to duel Sho Kimura in Nagoya, Japan and with a lot more than just the WBO trinket on the line.

Hearts and minds, as always, translate into dollars and yen. The winner of this all-Japanese contest will find himself buoyed in fame, glory and gold in his home country, which also happens to be one of the few places on the planet where a boxer can collect a small fortune without ever leaving his native shores. Should the winner dare to dream a wider dream, then that too can be facilitated by the win.  Even fistic denizens of boxing strongholds in Japan and Britain feel a shiver run down their spines when the words “Las Vegas headliner” are whispered into their ear.

The favored man among the hardcore in the west is Tanaka. He is still very young at just twenty-three years old and is slick and quick, what the west expects of a Japanese force. Interestingly enough, however, the Japanese seem to be leaning towards Kimura: older, at twenty-nine, armed with a superb work-rate, good power, limited technique but the conqueror of Chinese superstar Shiming Zou who he stopped in the summer of 2017. Zou may have had his bubble burst by the Thai brawler Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015, but it was Kimura who sent him stumbling into retirement and at a time when the talk was of China stealing Japan’s thunder as boxing’s home in the east.

Kimura was indeed impressive that night in Shanghai. He maintained pressure with wonderful variety, eschewing the jab, perhaps, for spells, but filling those gaps with an assortment of wonderful punches, most of all his body attack, which was persistent, withering, and apparently went unscored by two of the three judges who somehow had the Chinese ahead at the time of the eleventh round stoppage. Zou had shown a skill for flurrying while fleeing and Kimura had shown him how to fight.

Now a strapholder at 112lbs, Kimura staged two defenses in the following twelve months. The first was against Toshiyuki Igarashi, the man who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, the man who had beaten the superb champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam before a softer fight against Froilan Saludar. He won both by stoppage.

Kimura, then, rather came from nowhere but made the most of his arrival. What he displayed in all three of these fights was a determination to offer pressure and footwork educated enough to do it while taking many fewer steps than his harried opponent. A tad overrated as a puncher, I suspect, he places himself in hitting position often enough that his default fight plan – chase, harass, throw – makes him capable of hurting his opponents by way of persistence and pressure.

He left Zou, Igarashi and Saludar, broken in his wake.

In short, he is the type of opponent Kosei Tanaka has been waiting for.

There have been calls for Tanaka to be considered a pound-for-pound talent should he overcome Kimura this Monday. I understand the impulse. Tanaka, were he to triumph, would become a three-weight world champion and he hails from a boxing territory which has little direct control over the meaningful pound-for-pound lists, if such a statement is not a contradiction in terms.

In short, it is felt he would be undervalued.

Tempering these calls is the fact that he has never beaten a divisional number one and that Kimura would be, by far, the best opponent he would have bested, and the most proven. Some Tanaka opponents have come good after he defeated them, some were ranked in the lower reaches of their respective divisional top tens when he matched them, but none are scalps as impressive as those dangled by the likes of Errol Spence or Anthony Joshua, who populate the nine, ten and eleven spots in reputable lists.

But this is neither here nor there; the key is not what Kimura does not represent, it is what he does represent. He is the best that Tanaka has met and, I would argue, the first truly elite fighter that Tanaka has met. He is the litmus test and he is one with a stylistic advantage.

Tanaka can punch. Here we will find out whether or not he punches hard enough to keep Kimura off him. Personally, I doubt it and that means that Kimura is going to hand him a serious gut check.

Interestingly, it will not be Tanaka’s first. The first time I wrote about him I stressed that his chin was essentially untested. That is no longer true. Tanaka, who is reasonably sound defensively, can be lazy in minding himself and foolish in pursuing the attack.

Thai puncher Rangsan Chayanram checked him in 2017, delivering a serious eye injury among other ignominies before succumbing in nine; puncher Angel Acosta, a ranked fighter if not a great one, hit and hurt Tanaka repeatedly late in their 2017 contest. If Tanaka has been learning these lessons, expectations concerning his potential may be realized. If he is not, he will fall short. Kimura is the man to test him.

Kimura’s experience and seemingly limitless twelve-round stamina are to be pitted against Tanaka’s skill, proven heart and taut footwork. It sees a superior technician – Tanaka – who has shown a propensity for being drawn into a cruder fighter’s wheelhouse matching an aggressive stalker – Kimura – who specializes in drawing technically superior foes into knockdown-drag-out scraps.

It is framed both as a fight that is likely to finish a future pound-for-pounder’s education and a fight where a young pretender is found out by a grizzled veteran.

Best of all, it is a fight that fight fans can watch for free, simply by clicking here.  The Asian Boxing website has secured exclusive international rights to the fight and will broadcasting it, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. As can be seen here, the fight is due to start at 4pm Japanese time.

All the reader has to do is find out what that means for timing in their own corner of the globe and a potential fight of the year will unfold before his or her eyes free of charge.

World class boxing being broadcast for free and including two of the best below 115lbs; a stylistic crossroads contest that opens up the on-ramp to pound-for-pound recognition for at least one of the combatants – on a Monday.  All facts worth keeping in mind the next time that someone tells you boxing’s prime was any number of decades ago.

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th

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UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

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Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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