ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Friday’s weigh-in at Caesers Hotel was eccentric.
Heavyweight knockout specialist Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder weighed in while eating strawberry short cake. He dined on a bowl of lemon ice cream afterward.
Although Bernard Hopkins has switched out his longtime monicker “The Executioner” for “The Alien,” the 48-year-old IBF light heavyweight titleholder received his own trademark throat-slashing gesture from German challenger Karo Murat in a role reversal of sorts after they got off the scales.
The event ended with Hopkins vowing to end a 13-fight, nine-year knockout “drought” by stopping Murat before he bestowed a birthday cake upon Golden Boy CEO, Richard Schaefer.
Their bouts will happen on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall on Showtime.
MURAT GIVES HOPKINS A TASTE OF HIS OWN MEDICINE
“My drought is going to be over tomorrow. My drought is this: The last time that I had a (KO) was in 2004,” said Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 knockouts), whom the 30-year-old Murat (25-1-1, 15 KOs) said is “growing old.”
“I need a knockout tomorrow. I need a knockout. I’m going to be smart with it, but I’m going to need a knockout. That’s something that I have got to do. I’ve got to get this itch off of my back.”
Meanwhile, Murat was unyielding and stood, face-to-face, with Hopkins during the post-weigh-in stare down.
“The Executioner is still a historic situation, but the secret’s out. I am the Alien. There are a few Alien masks out there. In Murat, I see a game guy, but he’s scared. But he’s coming to fight. This guy is coming to fight,” said Hopkins of Murat, who tipped the scales at 174 pounds to his owns’ 172.5.
“I’m going to break his will early, and I’m going to put on a show for my people. That’s why I came in at 172.5. That’s a statement. I wanted to come in way below the weight I was supposed to fight at. I’m going to be 49 in a couple of months, and I’m 14 months from being 50. That’s a statement, live good, live clean, stay in shape. And, I ate this morning — a bowl of oatmeal and raisins.”
QUILLIN, ROSADO VOW A KICK-ASS FIGHT
It has become pretty clear that Quillin (29-0, 21 knockouts) and Rosado (21-6, 13 KOs) are not bosom buddies.
“I’ll do my talking in the ring. My hands are going to do the talking. Kid wants to act, but I’m used to that s–t,”
said Rosado, after having weighed 160 pounds to Quillin’s 159.2. “I’m going to take the title on Saturday. It ain’t
going 12 rounds. I guarantee that. He’s going to be on his ass.”
With a mark of 6-0 that includes three knockouts when fighting in New Jersey, Rosado, 27, is coming off of a fight with J’Leon Love in May, a split-decision loss that became a no-decision after Love was fined $10,000 and suspended for six months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for his failed post-fight drug examination.
Before facing Love, Rosado lost his middleweight debut by a bloody seventh-round stoppage to WBA titleholder Gennady Golovkin in January, ending his run of seven straight victories, five of them by knockout.
“It was just an opportunity that presented itself that I felt like was too good to turn down, so now, this is where I’m at,” said Rosado, of his reason for rising from the 154-pound division to face the hard-hitting Golovkin.
“This time around, this is my third fight at middleweight, and I’m comfortable at the weight class, now. I don’t think I could make 154 again unless I made an extra effort to do it. I don’t know if I really want to do that again. So I’m good at 160.”
Quillin countered Rosado with his own retort.
“In the street, I would beat up a sucker and get arrested for it. But for the first time, I can beat up a sucker and get paid for it. We’ve have been talking. He’s been telling me he’s going to knock me out. I don’t take that lightly,” said Quillin.
“At the end of the day, he can say how much of a street guy he is, but when God made a street guy, then he made another one in me, so I’m not really worried about nothing he says. Saturday night, it’s all about the fight. He’s saying that it’s not going the 12 rounds, so I can expect him getting his ass knocked out.”
It was Quillin, said Rosado, who initiated the banter as they stood, face-to-face, on stage after the weigh-in.
“I wasn’t even saying anything at first, and then I just told him that I promise that I’ll knock him out and that I was taking the belt. I was just being honest. Listen. He did all of that barking downstairs, right? I’m just looking at him, because I’m not about that talk. I just know how to be me. I don’t know how to put an act on. That, to me, was an act,” said Rosado, sitting in a hallway long after the weigh-in.
“Then, he walks back up here, just now, and he goes, ‘it’s all about being in the competitive spirit, Gabe.’ I go, ‘don’t worry, you’re still my man when I take that bitch back to Philly. Then, that caught him off guard, so then, he had to go back to the so-called ‘animal status,’ and he grabs his belt, ‘you can take it now, here, here, here.’ But the thing is, when no one is here, and he just walks past me, he’s trying to be a ‘Mr. Good Guy.’ Everything downstairs was an act, and I know it’s an act.”
Rosado said that he will expose Quillin on Saturday.
“Look, I’ve wanted Kid for a while, so bad, that when I was offered another fight, I turned that down so that I could fight Kid. There is something about this fight that I really like. Look at his character. Fighting is a mental sport, and it’s about character, right? It’s like, look how he acted downstairs. He did all of that barking, and then he comes up here and he says, ‘it’s all about being in the competitive spirit, Gabe. Like, you’re going to stand firm,” said Rosado.
“It’s one or the other. Where are you at with it? That let’s me know that, mentally, he’s a little concerned, and I’m still cool. So that tells me a lot right now. That he’s at a point where he don’t even know where to be at right now. He don’t know whether he wants to be the dude that’s talking that s–t, or he don’t know if he wants to be the cool dude. I’m one way the whole way around. I’m not saying that ‘it’s all good, Kid, you’ my man. Nah, it’s like it’s business right now.”
CAN WILDER HAVE HIS CAKE AND DEFEAT FIRTHA, TOO?
A 6-foot-7 fighter with a mark of 29-0 and as many knockouts, Wilder is coming off back-to-back first-round KOs of ex-beltholder Sergei Liakhovich in August and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison in April.
In the 34-year-old Firtha (21-10-1, 8 KOs), Wilder faces a man who was last in the ring for a six-round unanimous decision victory over Robert Hawkins in July that ended a two-fight losing streak. Firtha has been stopped four times, including by Tye Fields in the sixth round in 2009, and by Tyson Fury in the fifth round in 2011. Firtha has also gone the distance in 10-round losses to Alexander Povetkin and Johnathon Banks in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
A 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Wilder wants to look impressive in his East Coast debut while also honoring the late Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward. Before his death at the age of 68 exactly a year ago to the day on Friday, Steward had called the Wilder “No. 1…among the American heavyweights,” as well as “the best heavyweight prospect for winning the heavyweight title.”
“I’m an entertainer. I’m definitely one who wants to bring that back. I want to be exciting in the ring, and outside of the ring, because I’m really a silly guy. I was eating short cake. Strawberry short cake with strawberries, which is my favorite fruit. I’m in shape, man, so, you know? I always had that plan of some day coming to the ring and eating some kind of cake, so It was good, too. I don’t feel no pressure,” said Wilder, a resident of Tuscaloosa, Ala., who turned 28 on Tuesday.
“I know that a lot of people have a lot of expectations for me. A lot of people want to see a lot of things, but a lot of things are about to be answered real fast and real soon. I’m looking forward to it. I’m just allowing myself to let God do his will, and do his work. But when God does his work, you can’t rush what God has in store for you. You’ve got to stay patient, because if you don’t, and if you rush it, then you’ll miss out on the blessing, and I’m not trying to miss out on nothing.”
STEVE SMOGER IS IN THE HOUSE
Hopkins-Murat will be refereed by Steve Smoger, whose track record is one of allowing bouts to be contested to their violent conclusion, meaning that the fighters’ fists or their corners usually stop bouts that do not last through to the decision.
In September of 2001, for example, Smoger worked the 12th-round knockout victory over Felix Trinidad by Bernard Hopkins, whose triumph added Trinidad’s WBA belt to the WBC and IBF crowns Hopkins already owned.
Hopkins had landed a tremendous right to the head that sent Trinidad reeling backward and to the canvas, after which Trinidad struggled up at the count of 9 before Trinidad’s father and trainer, Don Felix, climbed into the ring and stopped the fight.
For undercard bouts, middleweights Dominic Wade (12-0, 9 KOs) and Roberto Ventura (12-7, 12 KOs) were 161.5, and, 166.5, respectively; junior welterweights Zachary Ochoa (4-0, 3 KOs) and Michael J. Doyle (2-5, 1 KO) were 140.5 and 137, and featherweights Braulio Santos (10-1, 9 KOs) and David Clark (6-2, 4 KOs) at 123.5 and 124.
In August, Wade, of Largo, Md., signed with advisor Al Haymon, joining an impressive list of fighters including Quillin, Wilder, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Lucas Matthysse, Danny Garcia, Adrien Broner, Devon Alexander, Marcos Maidana, Andre Berto, Gary Russell Jr., Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout, Seth Mitchell, Chris Arreola and Fernando Guerrero.
“There is pressure, but I feel as though it’s going to bring the most out of me,” said Wade. “It’s going to make me hungrier to do my thing, so I’m feeling good about it.”
In his last fight in April, Ochoa, of Brooklyn, hammered out a four-round unanimous decision over Calvin Smith, of Prichard, Ala., going the distance for the first time. Ochoa was coming off last November’s first-round knockout of Michael Salcido on the undercard of an eighth-round stoppage victory by Broner for the WBC’s lightweight belt over Antonio DeMarco at Boardwalk Hall.
“I feel good. This is an environment that I’ve grown to love. I love all of the people, and I love all of the champions, and I love these top contenders that are here. It makes me more hungry to work hard, and to stay focused, and to maintain my focus and fight intelligently in the ring,” said Ochoa.
“This is what I do. Everybody said that I was knocking everybody out, and that they wanted to see me use my skills in the ring. They got to see them. Whatever happens tomorrow is going to happen, but I’m going to go out there and get the win.”
Photos by Tom Casino-Showtime, Jamie Squire-Getty Images