by David P. Greisman
It’s rare to see Bernard Hopkins take many flush punches, yet that’s what happened against Karo Murat on Saturday. Though the first thought might be that Murat’s success in hitting Hopkins is because the 48-year-old is finally showing his age, and slowing because of it, Hopkins himself said that he got hit because he was trying to put on a better show.
“I felt like I threw more punches,” he said afterward. “They told me I have to be a crowd-pleaser. Sure, I took a little bit of blood, but that’s what they want to see.”
Murat was 147 of 486 in total punches, a 30 percent connect rate, going 120 of 336, or 36 percent, with his power shots, according to CompuBox. Hopkins was more active and more accurate, and he came out with a wide unanimous decision win.
Hopkins joked afterward that he hadn’t been in that kind of fight since a battle with his sister, Bernadette. Then he gave a serious comparison:
“Know what come close to that? Segundo Mercado, the first fight, in Quito, Ecuador, when I got knocked down two times for the first time in my career, and I fought my way back to a draw in his hometown, in Quito, Ecuador.
That was Hopkins’ second title shot; the first was a loss to Roy Jones in 1993. Hopkins followed the first fight with Mercado, in December 1994, with an immediate rematch in April 1995 in Maryland. Hopkins won that bout by seventh-round technical knockout, picking up the vacant International Boxing Federation title at 160 pounds and holding that belt for another decade.