Both RING No. 3-rated, IBF super middleweight beltholder Lucian Bute and former titleholder Glen Johnson say that they would consider a bout opposite 46-year-old WBC light heavyweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins beyond their Showtime-televised clash on Saturday night from Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
A Romanian-born left-hander, the 31-year-old Bute is 29-0, with 24 knockouts and will be in pursuit of his seventh consecutive stoppage when he enters the ring against the durable, 42-year-old Johnson (51-15-1, 35 KOs) at Pepsi Coliseum.
Hopkins is coming off a controversial fight against Chad Dawson on Oct. 15, in which Dawson was initially declared a second-round technical knockout victor when Hopkins suffered an apparent shoulder injury. The WBC voted to declare the fight a technical draw and let Hopkins keep his belt, though the California Athletic Commission has yet to rule on an official appeal filed on behalf of Hopkins by his promoter, Golden Boy.
Hopkins had been considering Bute as an opponent if he got beyond Dawson, and Bute said he would still consider the future Hall of Famer as a viable opponent.
“In terms of Bernard Hopkins, you always have to consider him as a good opponent. But the real question is does the network want to see Bernard Hopkins again,” said Bute.
“But as I said, there will always be some doubts with Bernard Hopkins what kind of show he will bring on. So that’s the question. Can we sell the fight? As far as the fight with Dawson, was it a real injury? I don’t know. But it was sad because I sat down to watch a great fight and I didn’t get the fight.”
For Johnson, a clash with Hopkins would amount to a shot at revenge. Johnson was unbeaten at 32-0 in July 1997 before being knocked out for the only time in his career in the 11th round by Hopkins.
“Bernard as far as his career, he’s still a wonderful fighter,” said Johnson, who has lost twice by decision to Dawson. “I congratulate him on that. I would still consider him a good opponent.”
Johnson also offered his opinion on the way that Hopkins-Dawson ended.
“The incident really took away from the fight, because there was not much action to have a judgement on the fight itself. So if I would make a comment, it would be more about the incident. I think that the it should have been a no-contest if the fighter can’t go on,” said Johnson,
“You certainly could have a question about whether or not Hopkins could go on or whether or not he was faking. That’s not something that I would need to work out. That’s something that the doctors would need to work out or whatever. I think that they’re going down the right path as far as working it out.”
Against Bute, Johnson will be taking part in his third fight at 168 pounds after having fought 22 consecutive times as a light heavyweight.
Johnson is coming off a unanimous-decision loss to WBC beltholder Carl Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) in June in the semifinals of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic. Froch will meet WBA super middleweight counterpart Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) for THE RING and Super Six championships on Dec. 17.
Johnson’s career-best efforts were in successive victories over Roy Jones by ninth-round knockout, by decision over Clinton Woods, and by split-decision over Antonio Tarver in 2004, earning him Fighter of the Year honors.
EDDIE CHAMBERS CITES BACK INJURY FOR EXIT
The winner of Chambers-Thompson was to face RING No. 1-rated, 35-year-old heavyweight titleholder Wladimir Klitschko (56-3, 49 KOs), who also owns the WBA and WBO belts.
As a result of the bout’s cancellation, the 40-year-old Thompson (36-2, 24 KOs) has been elevated to the status of mandatory challenger to the IBF belt worn by Klitschko, Championships Chairman Lindsay Tucker informed RingTV.com on Saturday.
The injury to the 29-year-old Chambers (36-2, 18 KOs) caused him to first pull out of a matchup with Thompson that was slated to be televised on Showtime on Oct. 28 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
On Friday, Chambers notified IBF President Darryl Peoples that he would not be able to participate on Dec. 17 either.
“I’m okay, but I haven’t been cleared by the doctors to fight, and also, my trainer is not going to be in the country,” said Chambers, referring to corner man James Ali-Bashir.
“So there was a series of unfortuate events, and I’m not sure how much time I would have really had to work out and to get properly prepared for a fight of this magnitude.”
Chambers was knocked out in the 12th round by Klitschko in March of last year, but is coming off a unanimous decision over Derric Rossy in February.
Thompson last lost when Klitschko stopped him in 11 rounds in 2008, but has won five straight bouts, all by knockout, since then.
The Thompson-Chambers winner was to be in line to avenge his loss to Klitschko, who will pursue his 15th consecutive win and his 11th knockout during that run against former cruiserweight titleholder Jean Marc Mormeck (36-4, 22 KOs) on Dec. 10.
“James Ali Bashir and Manny Steward, both of them are working with Wladimir to prepare him for Mormeck. So, it was going to be tough for me to get a trainer who could work with me,” said Chambers.
“And I really work closely with Bashir, so it was going to be very difficult, that, coupled with not being cleared by the doctor to resume my normal duties as far as my training. I really had no idea when I would have actually been able to start training.”
Chambers said that he hoped to be back in action by early as next year.
“As soon as I’m healthy, I’m going to get back to working hard and getting 100 percent ready. But the main reason that I couldn’t fight is because I just don’t know about this injury,” said Chambers.
“I don’t want to go into a fight not being 100 percent. I’ve fought with injuries in the past, and the performances have suffered. So I don’t want to continue that trend.”
Photo by Tom Casino, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org