By Rick Reeno
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer informed BoxingScene.com that IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, 48-years-old, is not quite ready to end his historic run in the sport.
Hopkins (53-6-2, 32KOs) plans to return in the summer, on a date in July or August, against his mandatory Karo Murat (25-1-1, 15KOs). The fight is being targeted for the East Coast, possibly at Barclays Center in Brooklyn or a venue in Atlantic City.
Murat was the mandatory challenger to then champion Tavoris Cloud. In order to finalize a fight between Hopkins and Cloud, Schaefer reached an agreement with Murat's promoter, Sauerland Event, regarding the step-aside terms.
Hopkins made history, again, by winning a twelve round unanimous decision over Cloud on March 9th - and in the process he broke his own record as the oldest boxer in history to capture a major world title.
"When I made the deal for Bernard to fight Tavoris Cloud, I made a deal as well with Sauerland at the same time - which basically said that if Bernard wins, and in case Bernard wants to keep the title and wants to defend it - we already worked out the deal structure back then. So then I had meeting with Bernard at my office in Los Angeles last Friday, and he informed me that he did decide that he wants to continue with his record making tour, so to speak, and that he wanted to go and defend his title as the oldest fighter ever to defend his title," Schaefer told BoxingScene.com.
"Now we are going to go and put the fight together. I informed the IBF and I informed Sauerland. All of that happened on Friday and now I'm going to be working on the date and the venue and the TV arrangements."
"For Bearnard Hopkins, at this point to say 'hey, I still want to continue' - I think its absolutely remarkable. After he won the title from Cloud, and broke another record by winning the title at 48, he could have easily sailed off into the sunset. For him to decide to continue, it shows just how special and remarkable of an athlete he is."
While Murat gets the first crack at Hopkins, there is another fighter who is pushing for the same opportunity - WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly. In fact, Cleverly (25-0, 12KOs) was the original target for Hopkins' fight in March, but the WBO ordered the Welsh boxer to make a mandatory defense against Robin Krasniqi, which takes place on April 20th in London. Ironically, Cleverly handed Murat his only career defeat - by way of a ten round TKO in 2010.
Should Hopkins pull through in the summer, and Cleverly keeps his end of the bargain in April, Schaefer is willing to rekindle his discussions with promoter Frank Warren [who promotes Cleverly].
"I have a good relationship with Frank Warren and we have talked about a possible Hopkins vs. Cleverly fight on the phone and in person when I'm in England. And there was a time, before Bernard decided to go with Cloud, that Cleverly was very much on the list. In fact we made an offer but Cleverly had other obligations and they were not on the same calendar so Bernard went on to fight Tavoris Cloud and made history," Schaefer said.
"Funny enough that you ask me about Cleverly. I got a call on Monday from Frank Warren, asking me if we could now do a unification bout. I explained to him that Bernard has a mandatory obligation, that he decided that he wants to fulfill that mandatory obligation, but that we would certainly be open to [that fight after Murat] - assuming everything goes well. I think that I could very well see Bernard, at this point in his career, going on to unify all of the titles and becoming the undisputed champion."
And Hopkins is certainly not afraid to face Cleverly on his own home turf, says Schaefer. In 2010, and then again in 2011, Hopkins traveled to Canada to face Jean Pascal.
"Bernard is not afraid to go anywhere. It's going to come down to - 'show me the money' - and rightfully so. I think it's his time now to make some good money. And if there is more money in England, then I'm sure that he'll go just like he did with Pascal when he went to Canada," Schaefer said.