SAN DIEGO, October 26, 2013 – Bernard Hopkins admits he’s a freak, like something from another planet. How else to explain that he is still going strong in one of the toughest sports on Earth at age 48?
His new nickname is fitting: Hopkins is now calling himself “The Alien,” setting aside his longtime moniker “The Executioner.” Hopkins puts his light heavyweight title and record as the oldest man ever to win a boxing title on the line Saturday night in Atlantic City against challenger Karo Murat of Germany on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET.
Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KO) made his pro debut in 1988 at age 23. Murat was five years old. Hopkins is as old as boxing champions Danny Garcia and Canelo Alvarez combined. Both made weight with ease on Friday, Hopkins at 172.5 pounds, Murat at 174 pounds.
Six years before his debut, Hopkins thought his life was effectively over. He was sentenced to prison for nine felony convictions. He discovered his love for boxing in prison, and decided it would be his escape from his previous life. Once Hopkins was released five years later, he never looked back. He’s still running as if something is gaining ground on him.
“Boxing was a way out mentally, spiritually, and physically,” says Hopkins. He maintains a clean lifestyle; he doesn’t partake in drugs, alcohol, caffeine, or even sugared sodas which he calls “liquid crack.” But he will treat himself to a piece of cheesecake after winning a fight, something he did setting the age record when he beat Jean Pascal and Tavoris Cloud.
Murat (25-1-1, 15 KO) is a second-tier competitor in the light heavyweight class. While he possesses perfectly good skills, the 30-year-old will be hard pressed to prevail against Hopkins who wields his wits with just as much skills as his fists.
Critics call Hopkins a dirty fighter, and it is true he’ll do what it takes to win in the ring if he can get away with it. But a referee can stop anything he sees that he doesn’t like, and Hopkins is perfectly OK with pushing it to the limit.
Hopkins would never have survived in the sport engaging in the kind of brawl Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov fought In Denver a week ago. He doesn’t much care whether the fans find his fights boring. He prefers to fight smart and make himself a tough target to hit, saying that he fights “old school in a new world.”
While the action itself might not be rock ‘em, sock ‘em exciting, seeing Hopkins push the limits of what an athlete can accomplish at an age most would have been out of the sport for a decade is a spectacle well worth watching.
In addition to Hopkins vs. Murat, there are two potentially entertaining fights on the televised undercard. Middleweight champion Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillan (29-0, 21 KOs) of Brooklyn, New York fights Gabriel Rosado (21-6, 13 KOs). Both Quillan and Rosado grew up watching Hopkins. Quillan has been formidable in his last few fights, while Rosado suffered a seventh round stoppage against powerhouse puncher Gennady Golovkin at the beginning of the year. He then lost a decision to J’Leon Love, but was awarded the win after Love tested positive for drugs.
Rosado is a tough fighter, lasting longer with Golovkin than anyone in recent years, but Quillan has the firepower to take care of business, even if it takes him all 12 rounds to do it. The pair made weight, with Quillan at 159.25 pounds and Rosado right at 160 pounds.
Rising heavyweight star and 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Deontay Wilder (29-0, 29 KOs) opens the evening against Nicolai Firtha (21-10-1, 8 KOs) in a 10-round contest. Note the knockout to win ratio of the six-foot-seven inch tall Wilder. It’s 100 percent. Firtha hit the scale at 252 pounds and Wilder at 224 pounds, including the piece of cake he was eating on the scale. That’s something you don’t see too often.
Expect to see this old cliché before your eyes: The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Wilder is teeing himself up to face bigger names in 2014 and another quick stoppage will be one more step down the road to making it a reality.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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