By Keith Idec
Karo Murat’s resume is short on noteworthy wins and the odds of him upsetting Bernard Hopkins are quit long.
Nevertheless, Germany’s Murat came to United States completely confident that he’ll win their 12-round fight for Hopkins’ IBF light heavyweight title Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City (Showtime; 9 p.m. ET/PT). Hopkins’ mandatory challenger went as far as to say he’ll send the 48-year-old Hopkins into retirement in the same city Hopkins’ career began in October 1988, when Murat was 5 years old.
“I respect him for winning the world title at age 48,” Murat said through a translator. “But I have to say one thing — you see mileage on him. So to me, he looks like a 48-year-old. He doesn’t have the speed anymore he may have had at 30 years old. He tries to clinch a lot and to win the fight through his experience and that’s it. I respect him, but I will try to beat him.”
Murat (25-1-1, 15 KOs) is 18 years younger than Hopkins, but Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KOs, 2 NC) dominated another fighter in Murat’s age range in his last fight, 31-year-old Tavoris Cloud. Hopkins won that March 9 fight in Brooklyn by large margins on all three scorecards (117-111, 116-112, 116-112), but Murat felt Cloud’s cooperation was as much the reason for Hopkins’ wide win as anything.
“I saw a down fighter when I saw Cloud boxing Hopkins,” said Murat, whose lone loss was a controversial 10th-round TKO defeat to Wales’ Nathan Cleverly in September 2010. “That’s why he allowed a 48-year-old man [beat him]. As a person, you see that [Hopkins is] growing old because of his gray hair and his gray beard. I saw in the fight versus Cloud that Bernard has pretty much the experience that no other boxer has, but you see that he’s just trying to get [off] one punch or a two-punch combination and then clinch. Clinching is the state of his game.
“In the years before, when he was a middleweight, when he was the middleweight champion, he didn’t show all that much clinching. You saw him beating people with ease. But nowadays, you see with the clinching and just the one-two punch, you see that he’s growing old. He may say that it’s just conditioning, bit I don’t think so.”
Murat wouldn’t divulge his strategy to prevent Hopkins from clinching Saturday night. He is certain, however, that he’ll fare much better against the legendary fighter from Philadelphia than Cloud.
“I’m in real good shape,” Murat said. “I’m happy to get this chance. I’m 30 years old now, and I’m physically and mentally on top of my game. You know, the time is now to beat Hopkins. When Hopkins fought Cloud, a lot of people already said that the time had come, that he’s going to lose and going to retire. But he schooled him and showed the world that he’s still ready and a good 48-year-old boxer.
“But I’m going to surprise a lot of people. And as I see it, he had his first pro fight in 1988 in Atlantic City. And so he has to see that the time has come. We are fighting again in Atlantic City. So it will be a good closing out for him to finally retire [at my hands].”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.