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Bernard Hopkins: “Karo Murat Is A Danger”

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BERNARD HOPKINS AND NUMBER ONE RATED IBF LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CONTENDER KARO MURAT NEW YORK CITY MEDIA ROUNDTABLE QUOTES

New York City (June 6) – IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion Bernard Hopkins held an intimate media roundtable in Midtown Manhattan today to discuss his July 13 title defense against number one rated IBF Light Heavyweight contender Karo Murat, who joined the roundtable via Skype from his training camp in Germany. Below please find quotes from Hopkins, Murat, COO of Golden Boy Promotions David Itskowitch, CEO of Barclays Center Brett Yormark and Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports Stephen Espinoza who were also on hand to discuss the highly anticipated fight taking place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. and which will be televised live on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING®.

Photo Credit: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME®

BERNARD HOPKINS, IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion

“I just found out a month ago, the doctor will be here before the [fight week] press conference hopefully to explain this, but I must confess that I am not human. I am an alien. No, seriously. I realize that Pluto is no longer a planet now, so I’m from Mars. I’ve definitely retired the ‘Executioner.’ You will not hear me mention the Executioner.

“Now, I’m in this world but I’m not of this world. There is no aging process for me.

“The breaking news is that I am an alien.

“I reflect a little bit in my mind about not only defending my title, but also defending my historic career.

“I’m a Philly guy. I get a lot of love in Philly, but, to be able to be a part of Brooklyn and to be fighting in a new facility that in 15 or 20 years from now, people will be talking about the great events that happened there and I will be mentioned for what I did on March 9.

“When Murat’s name came up and it was agreed upon, I was like ‘let’s do this.’ I see bigger things in my future believe it or not and he’s in the way of that.

“I feel like I’m in my mid to early 30’s instead of my 40’s.

“If you don’t know Karo Murat, then you’ll know him after July 13.

“I think you should pay attention, because I know when I was a number one contender, I was hungry for a title.

“There’s a reason why a fight between Cloud and Murat didn’t happen. I got the opportunity to fight with Cloud, and here we are.

“I look at it as ‘look what’s on my plate.’ The burden is on me, not Karo Murat. The burden is on me to be who I am and to show the world that when it comes to age, you know don’t count Bernard Hopkins out.

“This guy [Murat] and anybody I fight is a danger at this stage of my career.

“I have to look past him to the future. That means I’m motivated to make a profound statement and outdo the last fight. That’s one of my whole objectives is to outdo what people thought was a historic moment March 9. To me, other than the push-ups, I outdid myself in both Jean Pascal fights. This is my motivation. I want a super fight before I retire. If I want that super fight, I have to get past this. This is more of a political, do or die fight for me. I’m good under pressure.

“Karo Murat, to me, is that super fight for now as far as on paper, because there’s no reason to talk about anything else if July 13 becomes a disaster for my plans. It’s counterproductive to talk about anyone else past July 13.

“Karo Murat has been thirsty, he’s been waiting and he has a mentality of, ‘I’m in a win win situation because there are a lot of other people who have lost to me. So that’s not an embarrassment to him. It’s almost like a badge of honor. Can you imagine getting a black eye from someone you loved and watched growing up? This guy was 10 years old when I had a title. That’s a shiner that you don’t want to heal.

“I’m in a unique situation being 48 and being a guy that you don’t want to take a risk with your fighters because I have a history of ruining a lot of young fighters’ careers.

“This isn’t an off day for me. I’m not taking him lightly because I know what’s on the table for my future. This year there is a possible chance that you will see a 48-year-old athlete fighting at a top level three times. Who does that?”

KARO MURAT, Number One Rated IBF Light Heavyweight Contender

“I respect what Bernard’s achieved so far in his career, but at the end of the day, I’m traveling to America for the fight of my life. I’m prepared for a battle and I’m going to show you a real battle once we get into the ring.

“Of course I’m taking Bernard seriously. Who wouldn’t? Like I said, I’ve been following his career since I was 10, so I pretty much know all of his moves; everything he does, I know already.

“The deciding factor will be who is mentally stronger and I believe that’s me because I don’t have the same pressure that Bernard does, so that gives me an advantage.

“I believe there’s a big Armenian community in New York, so ever since I found out that I was coming to New York, I’ve been hoping all of the Armenians will come out and support me.

“I’m happy that he accepted the fight. It’s by far the biggest fight of my career.

“It’s a joy listening to Bernard. He’s a smart guy and it’s been quite fun listening to him. In my opinion, the roles have reversed from his fight against Cloud. A lot of people were writing him off because he’s old. He was the dark horse in that fight, and I think the roles are switched now. I think right now I’m the underdog. I’m the dark horse. I’m caught in the crosshairs and I’ll turn up in the best shape possible. I’ll turn up with the right mind set and Bernard Hopkins is going to feel that on July 13.”

DAVID ITSKOWITCH, COO of Golden Boy Promotions

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime for Karo Murat. It’s his first time fighting in the United States. He’s fighting a living legend and a win over Bernard certainly puts him on the boxing map.

“Bernard is a guy that doesn’t need much of an introduction, but I feel his accolades are worth mentioning.

“He’s the oldest fighter ever to win a world title and one of the greatest moments in sports history was when Jean Pascal was slow getting off of his stool between rounds, Bernard decided to do pushups in the middle of the ring.

“He continued to make history with his record-setting unanimous decision win over previously unbeaten Tavoris Cloud in March at Barclays Center and that showed he’s far from finished. I think we’re going to be doing these press conferences for a few years to come.”

BRETT YORMARK, CEO of Barclays Center

“We’re thrilled to be hosting Bernard Hopkins and Karo Murat on July 13. On March 9, it was so dramatic at Barclays Center when we witnessed an incredible moment when Bernard won the title.

“He said to me after the fight that he wanted to make Barclays Center his home away from home, and here we go…he returns in July.

“We had a vision three years ago. Our goal was to bring dramatic moments to Barclays Center. To have a big time return of boxing back to a borough like Brooklyn where there is so much history and I think it’s unfolded just the way we’ve wanted it to.

“We’re building a brand and a business in Brooklyn. We’re very excited about it.

“We’re thrilled that Showtime continues to deliver us to a national audience.

“Thank you Bernard for defending your title at Barclays Center.”

STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive Vice President & General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports

“We’re very happy to be working with Barclays Center again. Brett and his team have been extremely creative in marketing and producing these events. Each event has had a larger crowd than the one prior, and that’s a sign of building a very solid business and building a solid venue in Brooklyn.

“We’re also very proud to be back in business again with Bernard Hopkins. The words ‘living legend’ get thrown around quite a bit but he literally is a living legend, a medical marvel and every time he fights it is truly an event.

“That’s not to ignore Karo Murat by any means. He’s, for those in the U.S. that might not know him as well, a fighter that has been highly avoided by many, many different fighters at different skill levels. I’m not surprised Bernard would take the challenge. It’s going to be a very competitive fight.”

# # #

Hopkins vs. Murat, a 12-round bout for Hopkins’ IBF Light Heavyweight World Championship taking place Saturday, July 13 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions, sponsored by Corona and AT&T and will be televised live on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). The event can also be heard in Spanish on secondary audio programming (SAP).Preliminary fights will air on SHOWTIME EXTREME® at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

Tickets priced at $200, $100, $50 and $25, plus applicable taxes, fees and services charges, are on sale now and may be purchased at www.barclayscenter.com, www.ticketmaster.com, the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center, all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 800-745-3000. For group tickets, please call 800-GROUP-BK.

 

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Jermell Charlo Unifies Super Welterweights Via Solar Plexus Punch

David A. Avila

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WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo knocked out IBF and WBA titlist Jeison Rosario with a knockout punch delivered to the solar plexus on Saturday to add two more belts to his collection.

“I’m definitely bringing home the straps,” said Charlo.

Shades of Bob Fitzsimmons.

Back in 1897, Fitzsimmons used the same solar plexus punch to dethrone Gentleman James Corbett for the heavyweight title in Carson City, Nevada.

In another casino city Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs) floored Dominican Republic’s Rosario (20-2-1, 14 KOs) three times at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. He and his brother co-headlined a heavy duty pay-per-view card with no fans in attendance on the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Charlo jumped on Rosario quickly in the first round when he charged and clipped him with a left hook to the temple. Down went the two-belt champion for the count. But he got up seemingly unfazed.

For the next several rounds Rosario was the aggressor and put the pressure on Charlo who was content to allow the Dominican to fire away. Occasionally the Houston fighter jabbed but allowed Rosario to pound up and down with both fists.

After allowing Rosario to get comfortable with his attack, suddenly Charlo stopped moving and connected with a short crisp counter left hook and right cross in the sixth round. Down went Rosario again and he got up before the count of 10.

Charlo said it was part of the game plan.

“I’m growing and I realize that the knockout will just come,” he said.

Charlo was in control with a patient style and allowed Rosario to come forward. But the Dominican was more cautious in the seventh.

In the eighth round Charlo jabbed to the head and then jabbed hard to Rosario’s stomach. The Dominican fighter dropped down on his seat as if felled by a gun shot. He could not get up and convulsed while on the floor. The referee Harvey Dock counted him out at 21 seconds of round eight.

“That jab that got to him must have landed in a vital point,” said Charlo after the fight. “I hope he recovers and bounces back.”

Charlo now has three of the four major super welterweight world titles.

WBC Super Bantamweight Title

Luis Nery (31-0, 24 KOs) captured the WBC super bantamweight title by unanimous decision over fellow Mexican Aaron Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs) in a battle between southpaws. The war between border town fighters was intense.

Nery, a former bantamweight world titlist, moved up a weight division and found Alameda to be a slick southpaw with an outstanding jab. At first the Tijuana fighter was a little puzzled how to attack but found his groove in the fourth round.

But Alameda, who fights out of Nogales, Mexico, began using combinations and finding success.  A crafty counter left uppercut caught Nery charging in a few times, but he managed to walk through them.

In the final two rounds Nery picked up the action and increased the pressure against the slick fighting Alameda, He forced the Nogales fighter to fight defensively and that proved enough to give the last two rounds for Nery and the victory by unanimous decision. The scores were 115-113, 116-112 and 118-110 for Nery who now holds the WBC super bantamweight world title. He formerly held the WBC bantamweight title.

Roman Wins

Danny “Baby-Faced Assassin” Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) managed to rally from behind and defeat Juan Carlos Payano (21-4, 9 KOs) in a battle between former world champions in a nontitle super bantamweight clash. It wasn’t easy.

Once again Roman fought a talented southpaw and in this fight Payano, a former bantamweight titlist, moved up in weight and kept Roman off balance for the first half of the fight. The jab and movement by the Dominican fighter seemed to keep Roman out of sync.

Roman, who fights out of Los Angeles, used a constant body attack to wear down the 35-year-old Payano and it paid off in the second half. Then the former unified world champion Roman began to pinpoint more blows to the body and head. With seconds left in the 12th and final round, a left hook delivered Payano down and through the ropes. Sadly, the referee missed the knockdown. It didn’t matter as all three judges scored it identical at 116-112 for Roman after 12 rounds.

“I made some adjustments and picked up the pace and got the win,” said Roman who formerly held the WBA and IBF super bantamweight world titles.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

Arne K. Lang

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

The Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, was the site of the first pay-per-view boxing event in the United States since the Fury-Wilder rematch on Feb. 22. There were six fights in all, five of which were title fights and the other a title-eliminator. They were divided into two tiers but bundled into a package that cost approximately a dollar a round with a facile intermission tossed in at no extra charge.

The headline attraction of the first “three-pack” – and the most anticipated fight of the evening – found WBC world middleweight champion Jermall Charlo defending his title against Sergiy Derevyanchenko. The Ukrainian gave Gennady Golovkin a hard tussle when they fought in November of last year at Madison Square Garden – GGG won a unanimous decision but the scores were tight and many thought Derevyanchenko deserved the decision – and the expectation was that tonight’s match would also be very competitive.  But it really wasn’t although the rugged Derevyanchenko rarely took a backward step.

The fight went the distance and there were no knockdowns, but Charlo buckled his knees at the end of round three and Derevyanchenko ended the fight with cuts above both eyes. The judges had it 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112.

With Canelo Alvarez apparently headed to 168 and GGG showing his age at 38, one can make a strong case that the undefeated 30-year-old Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) is now the top middleweight in the world. Derevyanchenko, who was 23-1 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing before turning pro, saw his pro record decline to 13-3 with all three losses in middleweight title fights.

The middle fight of the first tier was a lusty encounter between Mexican-American super bantamweights Brandon Figueroa and Damien Vazquez. Figueroa, one of two fighting brothers from the Mexican border town of Weslaco, Texas, was a huge favorite over Vazquez, a Colorado native who moved to Las Vegas as a freshman in high school and had fought extensively in Mexico where he made his pro debut at age 16. But Vazquez, the nephew of former three-time world super bantamweight title-holder Israel Vazquez, came to fight and gave a good effort until the fight turned lopsidedly against him.

In the middle rounds, Figueroa’s high-pressure attack began to wear Vazquez down. Vazquez had a few good moments in rounds six and eight, but when his right eye began swelling from the cut above it, he was fighting an uphill battle. He took a lot of punishment before referee Gary Rosato halted it at the 1:18 mark of round 10.

Figueroa, 23, successfully defended his WBA 122-pound title while improving his record to 21-0-1 with his 16th KO. Vazquez declined to 15-2-1.

The lid-lifter was a WBO bantamweight title defense by John Riel Casimero with Duke Micah in the opposite corner. Micah, from Accra, Ghana, came in undefeated at 24-0, but Casimero had faced a far stronger schedule and was a substantial favorite.

A Filipino who was been training in Las Vegas under Bones Adams, Casimero took Micah out in the third round. The Brooklyn-based Micah was somewhat busier in the opening frame, but the tide turned quickly in favor of the Filipino. Casimero hurt Micah with a left hook in round two and went for the kill. He wasn’t able to finish him, but Micah was on a short leash and referee Steve Willis was quick to step in when Casimero resumed his attack after the break. The official time was 0:54.

Casimero (30-4, 21 KOs) was defending the title he won last November with a third-round knockout of favored Zolani Tete in Birmingham, England. He was slated to fight this past April in Las Vegas against Naoya Inoue, but that fight evaporated as a result of the coronavirus. After the bout, Casimero called out Inoue (and others): “I’m the real monster,” he said. “Naoya Inoue is scared of me. You’re next. I would have knocked out anyone today. If Inoue doesn’t fight me, then I’ll fight Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis Nery, or any of the top fighters.”

Check back shortly for David Avila’s summaries of the remaining fights.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Mairis Briedis and Josh Taylor Impress on a Busy Fight Day in Europe

Arne K. Lang

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In the busiest weekend of boxing thus far in 2020, there were fights of note all over the map in Europe. The most compelling was held at the Plazamedia Broadcasting Center in Munich where the long-delayed WBSS cruiserweight final pit IBF world cruiserweight title-holder Yuniel Dorticos against Mairis Briedis. Both had only one loss on their ledger, that coming in a semifinal of Season One of the WBSS tourney.

Heading in, Briedis was recognized as the more well-rounder boxer. Dorticos had a style somewhat similar to Deontay Wilder, meaning that he was over-dependent on his big right hand. It figured that Briedis would fight with extreme caution, using his faster hands and superior footwork to keep out of harm’s way, but to the contrary he wasn’t afraid to trade with Dorticos and actually landed the harder punches. At the end, he captured the IBF belt and the more coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy with a majority decision. The judges had it 117-111, 117-111, and a confounding 114-114.

The first fighter from Latvia to win a world title, Briedis (27-1, 19 KOs) is now a two-time world cruiserweight champion. He previously held the WBO cruiserweight belt, but vacated it rather than adhere to the organization’s mandate that he give Krzysztof Glowacki a rematch. (Their first fight, a TKO 3 for Briedis, was very messy and he was fortunate that he wasn’t disqualified.) Dorticos, the Cuban defector, returns to his adopted home in Miami with a 24-2 record.

Briedis, 35, may own only one piece of the world cruiserweight title, but at the moment he is clearly the topmost fighter in the division.

York Hall, London

Apinun Khongsong’s first engagement outside the Orient didn’t go well for him. The 24-year-old Thai boxer with an Muay Thai background was out of his element against WBA/IBF champion Josh Taylor who dismissed him in a hurry with a “solar plexus punch” that would have made Bob Fitzsimmons proud. The punch from the left-handed Scotsman sent Khongsong to the canvas writhing in pain and he was down for several minutes before he was able to stand upright. The official time was 2:41 of the opening round.

Taylor, the Tartan Tornado, was making his first start since October of last year when he won a 12-round majority decision over Regis Prograis in a Fight of the Year candidate. His next fight may be a full unification of the 140-pound belt with Jose Carlos Ramirez in the opposite corner. Both he and Khangsong entered today’s fight with 16-0 records, but Taylor, who scored his 13th knockout, was in a different league.

Undercard Bouts of Note

In a 10-round bantamweight contest, Charlie Edwards (16-1, 1 NC, 6 KOs) out-classed British countryman Kyle Williams (11-3). The referee awarded Edwards nine of the 10 rounds. Edwards, 27, previously held the WBC 112-pound title but was forced to relinquish it because he had trouble making the weight.

York Hall has been a jinx for David Oliver Joyce, the 33-year-old super bantamweight from Mullinger, Ireland, who is 0-2 in this building and 12-0 elsewhere. Joyce failed to last three rounds today in his match with Ionut Baluta. A Romanian who fights out of Bilbao, Spain, Baluta knocked Joyce down with a big left hook and then swarmed all over him when he arose, forcing the referee to intervene. The official time was 1:49 of round three.

It was the sixth straight win for Baluta (14-2, 3 KOs) and his third straight over a once-beaten opponent.

Riga, Latvia

Riga native Richard Bilotniks successfully defended his version of the European 175-pound title and advanced to the finals of the Golden Contract Light Heavyweight Tournament with a one-sided 10-round decision over Hosea Burton. A late bloomer who won only four of his first eight pro fights, Bilotnicks 30, won every round on one of the scorecards and eight rounds on the others to advance record to 17-5-1. Burton, who lost for the second time in 27 starts, let down his cousin Tyson Fury who flew to Latvia to cheer him on.

Struer, Denmark

At an arena in the city of Struer, hometown lass Dina Thorslund had a harder time than expected with Nina Radovanovic, but the Serb got no respect from the judges who didn’t see fit to award her a single round. Thorslund (15-0, 6 KOs) successfully defended her WBO world 122-pound title.

In the chief undercard bout, heavyweight Filip Hrgovic (11-0, 9 KOs) moved a step closer to a world title opportunity with a second-round blast-out of late sub Alexandre Kartozia. There was no need to count when Hrgovic leveled Kartozia with a big right hand.

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