IBF light heavyweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins says he will be facing “a dangerous competitor” when he makes the first defense of his belt against mandatory challenger Karo Murat of Germany on July 13 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., an event that was officially announced by Golden Boy on Sunday.
“Murat has nothing to lose and everything to gain by fighting me,” said Hopkins. “He knows he is fighting a 48 year old, but he has to understand that there aren’t any other 48-year-olds like me.”
Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 knockouts) defeated Tarvoris Cloud to win the title last month, extending the 48-year-old’s own record as the oldest man to win a significant crown. The Philadelphian originally set the mark by outpointing Jean Pascal to win the WBC light heavyweight belt at 46 in May of last year.
“I keep saying ‘I’m different’ because it is true, and I’m going to prove it once again on July 13,” said Hopkins, a former undisputed middleweight champion and RING light heavyweight champion.
“I don’t know a lot about Murat, which makes him a dangerous competitor. But after over two decades in this sport, there isn’t anything I haven’t seen, so I plan on showing the world that I can face anyone at any time and be victorious.”
A 29-year-old resident of Kitzingen, Germany, Murat (25-1-1, 15 KOs) is 3-0-1 with two knockouts since being stopped in the 10th round in September of 2010 by WBO light heavyweight beltholder Nathan Cleverly.
“It’s like a dream come true. I’m so happy to have this opportunity. Bernard Hopkins has nothing else to prove, and this will be the first fight in my career where I have nothing to lose,” said Murat.
“I can only win against Hopkins, and I plan on retiring him. His biggest strength is his experience, but I will reveal his weaknesses at Barclays Center in front of his own fans. I will be in the best shape of my life, and will snatch his belt from under his nose.”
After winning the IBF middleweight title from Segundo Mercado on April 29, 1995, Hopkins went on to defend it a record 20 times before losing to Jermain Taylor by a split decision on July 16, 2005. Hopkins’ milestone run included knockouts against the likes of Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Robert Allen, Simon Brown, Glen Johnson, John David Jackson and Carl Daniels.
On Sept. 29, 2001, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Hopkins’ 12th-round stoppage of the previously unbeaten Trinidad added Trinidad’s WBA title to his IBF and WBC belts, unifying the 160-pound division for the first time since 1987 and tying Carlos Monzon with his record 14th defense.
By defeating De La Hoya by ninth-round knockout in September of 2004, Hopkins held the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO middleweight belts — the first fighter in boxing history to do so.
After he lost to Taylor, and then endured an immediate rematch loss, Hopkins rose into the light heavyweight division for triumphs over Tarver, Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik, Enrique Ornelas and Roy Jones, suffering his first defeat in the division by split-decision against Joe Calzaghe.
Hopkins became a light heavyweight titlewinner for the third time by defeating Cloud, having also vanquished Antonio Tarver by unanimous decision in June of 2006 for THE RING title.
“Every Bernard Hopkins fight is a historic event and an opportunity for fans to see one of the all-time greats in action,” said De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions.
“On July 13, he’ll look to keep his remarkable streak going, but Karo Murat is a hungry challenger and he’s coming to Brooklyn to win, so I expect a great fight.”
Russell informed RingTV.com that he suffered a hairline fracture in his left hand during his unanimous-decision rout of Vyacheslav Gusev in March that ended Russell’s streak of three consecutive knockout victories.
Tickets priced at $200, $100, $50 and $25, plus applicable taxes, fees and services charges, went on sale on Monday at 10 a.m.
Tickets may be purchased at www.barclayscenter.com, www.ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 800-745-3000. Beginning Tuesday, May 21 at 10 a.m., tickets will be available for purchase at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. For group tickets, please call 800-GROUP-BK.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]