By Jake Donovan
It’s been a long two years for Karo Murat since first promised next dibs at an alphabet title. A combination of travel issues, TV dates freeing up and planned fights falling out has limited the 30-year old to just one fight since fighting to a 12-round draw with Gabriel Campillo in their Oct. ’11 rematch.
All told, Murat has seen the bar adjusted four times before finally landing a showdown with Bernard Hopkins, challenging the future Hall of Famer on October 26 in Atlantic City. The bout marks his first piece of ring action in 16 months.
In that span, he has watched at least one title shot fall through the cracks, in addition to a planned stay-busy fight in June followed by the Hopkins fight being rescheduled twice, leaving his ring activity to an obscure stoppage win last June in Denmark.
So what’s a man to do to prevent from going crazy? Just train and hope for good things to happen.
“It hasn’t been any problem at all,” Murat says of the several stop-and-starts he’s endured through several training camps leading to next weekend’s SHOWTIME headliner. “I just prepared for the first meeting with Bernard. When the visa problem came up, I took a break. When we received confirmation, which was only a few days later, we went back to work.
“I have that mental edge that nothing can break me out of my groove. When I took the break, I relaxed with the knowledge that I have a fight. It was like starting all over again. I wouldn’t say that it made me crazy but it was a little disappointing.”
The upcoming bout with Hopkins marks Murat’s second crack at a major title and his first fight in the United States. His lone other fight at the title level resulted in the only loss of his career, suffering a 10th round stoppage at the hands of then-unbeaten Nathan Cleverly on the road in the United Kingdom in Sept. ’10.
Even though his résumé doesn’t show it, Murat has actually filled his time with championship-level competition while preparing for the biggest fight of his seven-plus year career.
“We have our guys train all in the same session,” pointed out promoter Kalle Sauerland, citing mentioned former two-division champ Arthur Abraham among the many talented fighters under his promotional banner sharing gym time with Murat. “All of our guys, they are all there around the same weight. He’s been getting a lot of work (even though not active).”
If there was any potential for a letdown over that period, it was watching Tavoris Cloud–whom Murat was supposed to fight last year–concede his crown to Hopkins this past March. Murat was confident he had the right game plan to hand Cloud his first loss, but instead watched Hopkins do it, and make history in the process by becoming the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a major title.
Rather than dwell on the past, Murat finds a silver lining in an otherwise lost opportunity, thus adding another storyline to next Saturday’s showdown.
“To be honest, looking back I’m happy that Hopkins fought and beat Cloud,” Murat insists. “Now I get the chance to fight and beat a legend. It’s much more (prestigious) than if I fought and beat a lesser known) fighter like Cloud.”
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.