Boxing
 
       === Still the same: Hopkins preps for another unlikely conquest ===
 
 By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Boxing Editor
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Somehow, the "wow" factor is almost no longer apparent.
 
 Bernard Hopkins has been at this "I'm in my 40s and still beating guys" thing
 for so long, that it's become more and more difficult to generate excitement
 when he prepares for another conquering.
 
 Now 48-years old, the Philadelphia wunderkind enters the ring Saturday night
 for the 64th time in a pro career that began during the second term of
 President Ronald Reagan.
 
 He'll face 30-year-old Iraqi-born challenger Karo Murat in the first defense of
 the International Boxing Federation (IBF) light heavyweight title belt he won
 seven months ago with a unanimous 12-round defeat of another youngster - 31
 year-old Tavoris Cloud - in Brooklyn.
 
 The Murat fight takes Hopkins two hours to the southeast alongside the New
 Jersey seashore, where he'll headline a card at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City
 that'll be broadcast by Showtime beginning at 9 p.m. (ET). The show also
 includes unbeaten heavyweight prospect Deontay Wilder in a 10-round bout
 against Nicolai Firtha and World Boxing Organization (WBO) middleweight
 champion Peter Quillin risking his title for the second time against ninth-
 ranked contender Gabriel Rosado.
 
 It's the 18th career appearance in the East Coast gambling mecca for Hopkins,
 who dropped a four-round decision to Clinton Mitchell in his 1988 pro debut at
 Resorts International and was beaten by Chad Dawson to lose his WBC light
 heavyweight title at Boardwalk Hall in 2012.
 
 In between, he won 15 consecutive fights at the Sands, Trump Tower, Convention
 Hall, Resorts, Trump Taj Mahal and Boardwalk Hall, including three defenses of
 the middleweight titles he held from 1995 to 2005 and subsequent career-
 enhancing defeats of Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik.
 
 Even Hopkins himself underwent a gimmick change for this go-round with Murat -
 the IBF's second-ranked contender - changing his longtime "Executioner"
 nickname to "The Alien."
 
 "Coming to Atlantic City brings out a lot of emotions in me," he said. "To be
 back here, healthy with a legacy and doing historic things is a blessing. I am
 motivated by being in a place where it all began. There is extra energy for me
 to give serious beatdowns here. Karo Murat is hoping, like others before him,
 that he is lucky enough that I got old in the gym."
 
 Hopkins, now 53-6-2 with 32 knockouts, was assumed by many to be past his best
 upon losing consecutive decisions to a then-unbeaten Jermain Taylor in July and
 December of 2005. But, six months after the second loss to Taylor, at age 41,
 he rose to light heavyweight and easily out-pointed Antonio Tarver to win the
 International Boxing Organization's (IBO) championship.
 
 He announced his belated retirement afterward in keeping with a promise he'd
 made to his mother to give up the game by age 40, but was back in the game 13
 months later for a unanimous decision defeat of former 154-pound champion Winky
 Wright in a 170-pound catchweight match
 
 Nine subsequent fights have yielded a 5-2-1 record with one no-contest, a WBC
 title belt he won from Canadian Jean Pascal at age 46 and the IBF crown he
 wrested from Cloud at the Barclays Center with one-sided judges' scores of
 116-112 (8-4 in rounds), 116-112 (8-4) and 117-111 (9-3).
 
 "There's no magic spell that hits you over the head that says, 'You're old.' As
 far as I'm concerned, old to me is not old to the average person. What is old?"
 Hopkins said. "My fight is another page of my legacy.  We want people to think
 this is a tough fight, but it's a fight that is going to lead to bigger
 things."
 
 The 6-foot-1 Hopkins has scored no wins inside the distance since a ninth-round
 stoppage of Oscar De La Hoya in 2004, while Murat, who stands 5-10 1/2, has two
 straight victories by TKO. He stopped American veteran Otis Griffin in 11
 rounds in Germany in May 2011 and halted Czech Republic-based journeyman Sandro
 Siproshvili in seven rounds in his last fight 16 months ago.
 
 His last loss was in 2010, when he was stopped by Welshman Nathan Cleverly in
 10 rounds.
 
 The match with Hopkins is his first championship fight.
 
 Hopkins is 23-3-2 with two no-contests in 30 title fights.
 
 "This is a fight against a legend, but I can handle it. I think it is a sign
 from God that I am here to end Bernard's career. He is an old man and needs to
 stop now," Murat said. "I don't have a strategy. I will see during the fight
 what I can do to beat Hopkins."
 
 
 10/25 15:36:07 ET

Powered by The Sports Network.

Sports Plus - Ruidoso News