As usual, 'Alien' B-Hop is out of this world

ASSOCIATED PRESS Bernard Hopkins (right) lands punch against Karo Murat during 11th round.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Bernard Hopkins (right) lands punch against Karo Murat during 11th round.
Posted: October 29, 2013

ATLANTIC CITY - It was not the retired "Executioner" or the newly minted "Alien" persona that Karo Murat brought out in IBF light-heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins in their title fight on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall.

Annoyed by several dirty tactics employed by his challenger from Germany, Hopkins went way back in his 25-year boxing career - before he became the oldest man to win a world title, before he became a record-setting middleweight champion, even before he became known as "B-Hop."

Hopkins channeled the early days of his career, when he was just a young boxer from Philadelphia trying to fight his way through the "hard knocks" necessary to evolve into boxing royalty.

"[Murat] was a game guy who came in to try to win," said Hopkins, the 48-year-old wonder, who won by unanimous decicion. "I'm just glad that he brought the dog out of me. It's not very often that you see me take a string of punches, but I know I have one of the best chins in boxing. I just don't get hit on it.

"I'm a Philly fighter. If you gotta bite down and do what you gotta do, and you're on my [backside] I gotta rumble.

"I can rumble. I'm not the biggest puncher in the world, but I can get your attention. I can get your attention, and that's all that counts."

Sometimes criticized as being "boring" because of his defense/counterpunch style, Hopkins (54-6-2) was the attacking aggressor against the 30-year-old Murat (25-2-1).

Perhaps the most important punch of the fight came in the third round when Murat hit Hopkins with a strong hook.

Hopkins stepped back and then smiled.

Sitting ringside with his son and undefeated world champion Danny Garcia, trainer Angel Garcia turned to the media table and said, "This is over. Murat won't hit Bernard with a harder punch the rest of the fight."

Once Hopkins discovered Murat could not hurt him, he not only commenced with delivering his usual boxing lesson to a younger, less experienced fighter but he surprisingly tried to knock him out.

"I really wanted a knockout," said Hopkins, who has had one since dropping Oscar De La Hoya more than 9 years ago. "[Murat] was tough. You know you've got to take some punches to get a knockout. [The crowd] wanted to see a knockout so I took some punches.

"It was a good fight, an entertaining fight. I hope the fans enjoyed it. It sounded like they did."

Hopkins threw 373 power punches, connecting on 184 (49 percent). He cut Murat above the left eye and cheek in the eighth round.

To Murat's credit, he was game and fought like a guy who wanted to take the title. He just had no answer for Hopkins' skills.

Perhaps out of frustration or desperation, Murat employed several dubious tactics, including hitting after the break and after the bell.

In the sixth round, Murat spun Hopkins to the ground and then hit him twice while he was sitting on the canvas.

Referee Steve Smoger, who deducted a point from Murat for hitting on the break and pushed him away by his face after the final bell, was more annoyed by Murat's questionable "gamesmanship" than Hopkins.

"Nah," Hopkins said when asked if he was upset that Murat hit him while he was down, "because I've hit a lot of people when they were down during my career - not to the point where it was a foul.

"A fighter's instinct is to punch. There are rules for boxing but when you are in the ring, it is a fight. I don't think [Murat] did it on purpose. I think he figured if he roughed Bernard up some he might get an advantage somehow.

"It didn't bother me. This is boxing. You're only wrong if you get caught."

Of course, after the fight, talk was about what is next for the ageless wonder, with a speculated fight with undefeated champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., again coming up.

Hopkins, who fought at 172 1/2 pounds, said if he had until May, he would have no problem getting to 160 to fight Mayweather with no ill effects.

"I'm an alien," said Hopkins, who wore a fluorescent green alien mask into the ring against Murat. "I'm going to see the doctor about that.

"You all know that if I put my mind to something, I'm going to do it. I'm never more than five or six pounds overweight when I'm not training for a fight. You give me to May of next year to make 160, oh that fight is on."

Still while a Mayweather fight would be labeled a "super fight," Hopkins said his real preference would be to unify the light-heavyweight title before he turns 50 - an age at which even he says he could not continue.

"I'd rather be the guy who has all the titles like I did as a middleweight," Hopkins said.


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