Former RING light heavyweight middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins could face undefeated IBF 175-pound beltholder Tavoris Cloud on March 9, sharing the card with unbeaten welterweight contender Keith Thurman against an opponent to be determined at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, pending approval from the IBF, according to Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.
With a victory, Hopkins, who will turn 48 in January, would extend his own record as the oldest man to win a significant crown, a feat the Philadelphia native accomplished at the age of 46 with a unanimous decision over Jean Pascal for the WBC’s light heavyweight belt in May of last year.
Thurman (19-0, 18 knockouts) is coming off a fourth-round stoppage of former WBO 147-pound beltlholder Carlos Quintana on Nov. 24, scoring his eighth consecutive knockout the day after his 24th birthday.
“Assuming the IBF will grant permission and will sanction the fight for the IBF world title, it would be Bernard Hopkins versus Tavoris Cloud,” said Schaefer. “And there will be an opening bout there as well, which would most likely be Keith Thurman.”
Ponce de Leon dethroned Jhonny Gonzalez in September by an eighth-round, unanimous technical decision that ended Gonzalez’s 12-fight winning streak that included 11 knockouts. Velez improved to 20-0 with 15 stoppage wins after a third-round knockout of Salvador “Sal II” Sanchez II on Dec. 1.
The Ponce de Leon-Velez card will also included a matchup between unbeaten lightweight contender Sharif “The Lion” Bogere and Richard Abril for the WBA’s belt in the wake of Bogere having suffered a partial tear of his left Achilles tendon, forcing him out of last month’s scheduled bout against Abril.
In addition, Schaefer said that southpaw featherweight Gary Russell Jr. (21-0, 13 KOs) could pursue his fourth straight knockout on the Ponce de Leon-Velez card.
On Jan. 26, Schaefer is looking to match THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse against Henry Lundy, as well as once-beaten welterweight Selcuk Aydin against Jesus Soto Karass as part of a Showtime-televised triple-header.
“The triple-header is for Lucas Matthysse against Hank Lundy, and Selcuk Aydin against Soto Karass, and a third fight which we are currently working on,” said Schaefer.
“It’s not going to be at the Nokia [Theater in Los Angeles] because that’s not available, but from another venue in Los Angeles or from Las Vegas on Showtime. The slogan here is ‘Big Hitters and Heavy Action.’”
At Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Feb. 9, former champ Zab Judah will challenge RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia, with the undercard bouts including the first defense by newly-crowned WBO middleweight beltholder Peter Quillin opposite once-beaten Fernando Guerrero.
Also on the Garcia-Judah undercard will be once-beaten middleweight prospect Danny Jacobs.
“It’s going to be Danny Garcia versus Zab Judah, and it’s going to be a triple-header,” said Schaefer. “We are in the process of finalizing Peter Quillin versus Fernando Guerrero, with the return of Danny Jacobs. We’re working on Danny Jacobs’ opponent.”
Originally scheduled for Jan. 19 before an apparent injury was suffered by unbeaten Englishman Kell Brook, the Showtime-televised clash with IBF welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander has been re-located to Detroit and Feb. 23.
Not only will Alexander-Brook be complimented by an IBF junior middleweight title defense by Cornelius Bundrage against veteran Ishe Smith, but “there will be a third fight,” said Schaefer.”That could be a third world title fight, and I’m working on that.”
Schaefer said that he has Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on hold for Feb. 16 and a potential lightweight unification clash between WBC beltholder Adrien “The Problem” Broner (25-0, 21 KOs) and WBO titleholder Ricky Burns (35-2, 10 KOs) whose undercard will boast a rematch between heavyweights Johnathon Banks and Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell.
Broner, 23, is coming off last month’s eighth-round knockout that dethroned Antonio DeMarco. A former WBO junior lightweight titletholder, Broner earned his fifth straight stoppage win, ending DeMarco’s streak of five consecutive wins, four of them by knockout. Burns, 29, has won 20 consecutive fights, seven of them by knockout.
On the Broner-DeMarco undercard, Banks dropped Mitchell three times in the second and final round, ending Mitchell’s streak of 23 consecutive victories, 18 of which were knockouts, including the past 10 straight.
“We’re holding the boardwalk in Atlantic City for Adrien Broner,” said Schaefer. “I’m currently in negotiations with Frank Warren for a Ricky Burns fight, and that will be on HBO. Banks and Mitchell will be on that card as well. It will be a double-header.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Tom Casino, Showtime
Photo by Scott Heavy, Gettyimages
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com