In the main-event of Showtime’s latest Championship Boxing broadcast, Bernard Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 knockouts) took on his mandatory challenger, Karo Murat (25-2-1, 15 knockouts). In the build-up to the fight, more emphasis was put on the fact that Hopkins is almost 50-years old rather than selling fans on the excitement that would never come. The bout may not have been exciting or even competitive, but it certainly was ugly.
In the opening round and the early rounds that followed, one would think that they were watching a hybrid-form of wrestling rather than high-level boxing. Although Hopkins if well-known for his often “dirty” or old-school tactics employed to frustrate opponents, Murat was more than willing to engage the veteran in a fight that was an absolute foul fest. With both fighters off to a slow start, the early rounds could go either way. With Hopkins resorting to a jab to keep his opponent at bay, Murat adopted the tactic of rushing Hopkins in hopes of overwhelming and perhaps stopping him.
Murat’s attempts at aggression were immediately met with a clinch, and the frustration just grew for him as he couldn’t really manage to get any kind of offense going against the crafty Hopkins. Luckily, Hopkins slowly managed to pick up the pace, and by round four it looked like the fight was actually going to be competitive. Instead, it reverted right back to Hopkins tactfully picking his shots, avoiding Murat’s punches, and clinching up when things got too heated.
Hopkins could sense his opponents impatience, and often toyed with him in hopes of forcing him into a blind rage (Hopkins kissed Murat in the back of the neck in round 5). It certainly got to Murat, but rather than showing the old man a lesson by means of punching, he just resorted to grappling and almost throwing Hopkins out of the ring. This was the case in round six as Murat threw Hopkins down onto the canvas, leading to a stern warning from the referee.
As the rounds continued to pass, Hopkins grew more and more sure of his victory. With Hopkins being the busier and more accurate fighter, Murat’s fate seemed all but sealed. A point deduction in the sixth round by referee Steve Smoger seemed to be that final nail in the coffin. Hopkins was content with his usual hit and not be hit tactic until the eighth round which saw him nearly throw Murat out of the ring. Frankly, Hopkins’ in-ring antics and trash talk was becoming much more interesting than the fight itself.
In the final rounds of the bout, Murat finally seemed to carry some momentum of earlier aggression into his attack, but it proved to be far too late a flurry for him to suddenly scrape up a victory. Hopkins out-maneuvered and out-boxed Murat to the final bell before being awarded the unanimous decision victory on scores of (119-108), (119-108), and (117-110).
For Hopkins, this fight was just another name in his already legendary resume, but if one thing is clear it’s that Hopkins is still showing his signs of aging. In his suggesting of future “super fights”, one wouldn’t be wrong to question how Hopkins would fare. This is especially true when he is compared to punchers like Kovalev and current money-machine Floyd Mayweather. Whether Hopkins takes those fights or not it’s obvious that people are more captivating by the thought of him still winning rather than who he is earning these wins against. Hopkins still has a few pay-days ahead of him, but as for Murat, it appears he will have to settle for the bright lights back home.