By Jake Donovan
Bernard Hopkins will be the first to admit that his Oct. 26 mandatory light heavyweight title defense versus Karo Murat is–at best–means to an end. Few if any give the visiting Murat any shot of winning, nor does Hopkins–even at 48 years old and having celebrated his 25th anniversary as a prize fighter–expect very much credit with a win, no matter how dominant a performance he delivers.
What he expects to come of the night, however, is a super fight down the road. Against whom that opportunity would come isn’t immediately known, though he has been approached with the crazy idea of facing Floyd Mayweather Jr., as early as next May if it could possibly happen.
That Hopkins is actually entertaining the fight has already caught a small buzz in boxing circles, prompting the future Hall of Famer to clarify the rumors.
“I’ve had no conversations, but it was said to me,” Hopkins said, claiming that he was approached on the subject and simply responded. “(Showtime) owe him fights in May of next year and asked me whether I’m willing and can I make 160. A guy like me with that much time to train for it, I said, ‘Sure!’ They didn’t look like they was joking.”
Hopkins hasn’t made the middleweight limit since Dec. ’05, when he dropped his second consecutive disputed decision to Jermain Taylor in a failed bid to regain the middleweight crown he’d previously held for more than a decade. His first loss to Taylor ended a historic championship run featuring 20 alphabet title defenses, as well as six more of the lineal crown he claimed after destroying then-unbeaten superstar Felix Trinidad in Sept. ’01.
All of his bouts since the second Taylor loss have taken place at the light heavyweight limit. The exception to that has been the occasional catchweight bout at 170 lb. to accommodate incoming middleweights Winky Wright and Kelly Pavlik.
Still, his entire light heavyweight run has been one for the ages, largely due to what he’s managed to accomplish at his advanced age. Hopkins was 41 years old and coming off of back-to-back losses when he moved up two weights classes to effortlessly dominate then top light heavyweight Antonio Tarver. Adding to his résumé has been a pair of historic achievements, first becoming the oldest lineal world champion in history when, at age 46, he dethroned Jean Pascal in their May ’11 rematch.
The reign didn’t last long, battling Chad Dawson to a two-round no-contest before losing the belt in their unwatchable rematch last April. Hopkins returned with a vengeance earlier this year, unseating previously unbeaten Tavoris Cloud to become, at age 48, the oldest fighter ever to win a major title.
Mayweather is coming off of what should have been a landslide points win over Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in their 154 lb. World championship this past September. The win kept him unbeaten and at the top, while the event itself became the most lucrative in the history of the sport. The pound-for-pound and box-office king has vowed to fight twice in 2014, with his ring return targeted for next May.
Several names have been floated for his potential opponent, including Amir Khan and reigning lineal super lightweight king Danny Garcia. Both fighters are with Golden Boy Promotions, with him Hopkins is a promotional stakeholder.
Still, he believes – with enough time to get down to 160 and managing to entice Mayweather to move up one more weight class – that he can do what he believes no other fighter in today’s generation is capable of accomplishing.
“Nobody else is going to beat Floyd Mayweather,” Hopkins firmly believes. “The guys in their 20’s and in this era, right now, they don’t have the degrees to do it. That’s the only reason I threw my hat in the ring (as a Mayweather opponent).”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America.