By Jake Donovan
For the second time in as many fights, Bernard Hopkins called for the mother of all catchweight fights – a showdown with undefeated welterweight king Floyd Mayweather. The 49-year old wunderkind is fresh off of a 12-round light heavyweight title unification win over Beibut Shumenov, which took place on April 19 in Washington D.C.
The feat earned Hopkins the distinction of becoming the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a unification fight, a title fight and to capture a title – the latter two breaking his own records. Every win by Hopkins from here on out will make him the “oldest to…” honoree, though by mentioning Mayweather’s name it’s clear that he has his eye on a different kind of historic event.
Hopkins has claimed that he could come all the way back down to middleweight – where he also owns the record, this for the longest reigning middleweight titlist in boxing history – for such a fight. The last time the former middleweight king made the 160 lb. limit was for his rematch with Jermain Taylor in Dec. ’05, five months after his 10-year title reign – including four years as lineal World middleweight champion – came to an end.
Whether or not Hopkins can even come close to making weight is anyone’s guess. Mayweather, who has never fought above the 154 lb. division at any point during his 18-year pro career, doesn’t seem particularly interested in finding out, which has nothing to do with avoiding the challenge.
“Everyone's trying to hit the jackpot to fight Floyd Mayweather, from heavyweight to flyweight,” Mayweather suggested when asked of the possibility of such a fight. The unbeaten pound-for-pound king has far more pressing matters at hand, as the days draw closer until his May 3 showdown with Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Mayweather hasn’t fought since last September, scoring a decision win over Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in what became the most lucrative boxing event in history. One month after the bout, Hopkins made the first defense of his third reign as a light heavyweight champ, scoring a 12-round decision win over Karo Murat.
The fighting pride of Philadelphia spent a considerable amount of time before and after the fight insisting on a showdown with Mayweather. He took the same approach following last weekend’s win over Shumenov, which actually turned out to be his lowest rated non-PPV fight since his Dec. ’09 win over Enrique Ornelas, which aired on regional cable on a weeknight.
Count Mayweather among those who didn’t fully contribute to the Showtime ratings last weekend.
“I didn't see Bernard's fight,” Mayweather insisted when asked of Hopkins’ performance. “I saw the first two rounds, but I really wanted to watch Kid Chocolate (Peter Quillin, who defeated Lucas Konecny on the televised undercard), who is from Grand Rapids, MI and has always been a fan (of mine). So I wanted to see him, and then I saw Bernard Hopkins lose the first two rounds of his fight.”
“After the first two rounds, I went for a 6-mile run. While I was out for my 6-mile run, I guess he took control of the fight. I can't take anything anyway from Bernard Hopkins. He's a legend like myself.”
Sharing such status, however, shouldn’t create the false impression that a superfight could be made.
“As far as (Hopkins’) hype, fighters get their biggest payday when they fight Floyd Mayweather,” the unbeaten fighter believes.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox