Challenger Karo Murat is 18 years younger than Bernard Hopkins, and was just over a month past his fifth birthday when the now-48-year-old IBF light heavyweight titleholder lost his professional debut on Oct. 11, 1988, to Clinton Mitchell in Atlantic City, N.J.
Hopkins has gone on to become an undisputed middleweight champion with a division record 20 defenses, and, later, earned the RING light heavyweight championship. In his last fight in March, Hopkins dethroned previously unbeaten Tavoris Cloud by unanimous decision to extend his own record as the oldest man to win a significant crown.
Meanwhile Murat, a resident of Germany, will be ending a nearly 16-month ring absence since a seventh-round knockout of Sandro Siproshvili, which followed a draw with ex-beltholder Gabriel Campillo in October of 2011. Murat is 3-0-1 with two knockouts since being stopped in the 10th round by former WBO beltholder Nathan Cleverly in 2010.
When Murat (25-1-1, 15 knockouts) challenges Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KOs) on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall, not only will he be making his U.S. debut in his first title bout just a few miles from Hopkins’ native Philadelphia, but he will do so in a city where Hopkins has triumphed over such notables as Kelly Pavlik, Antonio Tarver, William Joppy and Simon Brown.
“It defies belief, but if the 30-year-old Karo Murat upsets the 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins, then it would be a colossal upset,” stated Tom Gray, of RingTV.com. “There is nothing on Murat’s record to suggest he can live with Hopkins from a technical standpoint, so a decision win looks unlikely and a knockout, all but impossible.”
Still, Murat believes that Hopkins’ age, not his own relative inactivity, will be the difference in his favor on Saturday.
“You can see the mileage on him,” said Murat, in part. “To me, he looks like a 48-year-old. He doesn’t have the speed anymore that he may have had when he was 30 years old. He tries to clinch a lot, and to get over in the fights with his experience. That’s it.
“I saw a dumb fighter when Cloud fought Hopkins, and that’s why he lost to a 48-year-old man. As a person, you see that he’s growing old because of his gray hair and his gray beard…He was just trying to get off one punch or a one-two combination, and then, he would clinch. Clinching is a state of his game.”
Below are the opinions of 21 boxing insiders who were polled by RingTV.com regarding Hopkins-Murat.
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 Karo Murat: I like Bernard Hopkins by a wide unanimous decision over Karo Murat. Hopkins beats Murat down and wins just about every round. I can see it by about a 119-109 score.
Record: 1-2 [Last pick: Marquez KO Bradley]
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 Karo Murat: I know that B-Hop is battling two opponents every time he steps into the ring — the other guy in the ring and Father Time — but I don’t think Father Time will get much of an assist from Karo Murat, who is a solid lower-top 10 contender but also very ordinary.
I think Bernard Hopkins will gradually and systematically shut down the German-Iraqi over 12 rounds doing what B-Hop does — executing an aggressive, roughhouse form of ring generalship that is backed by the impeccable foundation set forth by the late Bouie Fisher.
I am not anticipating any sustained action or even a mildly entertaining fight, although the usual small (but vocal) contingent of “purists” will “appreciate” Bernard’s mastery of boxing tactics and strategy.
Record: 10-9 [Alvarado close UD 12 or MD 12 Provodnikov]
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 Karo Murat: Bernard Hopkins can’t defy time forever. That’s a sure thing. Less certain, perhaps, is a victory over Karo Murat. If Murat is a threat, it’s because he’s virtually unknown. Murat is fighting for the first time in the United States.
He hasn’t fought in nearly 17 months. He’s never fought anybody like Hopkins. Hopkins, the old man, has been the busier man. It’s been seven months since he confused Tavoris Cloud in winning a decision in March.
If Murat were fighting Tavoris Cloud instead of Hopkins, the pick here would be Cloud. Hopkins has the experience, smarts and bluster to baffle and beat Murat as thoroughly as he did Cloud.
Record: 19-8 [Alvarado TKO 9 Provodnikov]
Bernard Hopkins TKO11 Karo Murat: Never one to do what’s expected of him, Bernard Hopkins turns bully in this one and instead of cruising to a crafty decision, look for the defending IBF light heavyweight champion to fight more aggressively against the hopelessly outclassed, tough talking German, Karo Murat.
A debilitating Hopkins knockdown late in the fight will take the last remaining starch out of Murat and render the challenger unable to effectively defend himself.
When “The Alien” scores his first stoppage win in nearly a decade, boxing fans will be surprised but they shouldn’t be. Hopkins has been surprising us all for much longer than that.
Record: 16-8 [Provodnikov TKO 10 Alvarado]
Bernard Hopkins UD12 Karo Murat: It defies belief, but if the 30-year-old Karo Murat upsets the “48-year-old” Bernard Hopkins then it would be a colossal upset.
There is nothing on Murat’s record to suggest he can live with Hopkins from a technical standpoint, so a decision win looks unlikely and a knockout, all but impossible.
One day “The Executioner”, or “The Alien” as he now calls himself, will report for work without his tools but I can’t see Murat being the one to benefit. I pick the old man by wide decision.
Record: 9-7 [Alvarado UD 12 Provodnikov]
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 Karo Murat: Karo Murat is a good fighter but Bernard Hopkins is a great fighter and there’s really nothing that Murat has to offer that Hopkins hasn’t seen. Murat should be given more credit than he has thus far.
However, he has been knocked out by Nathan Cleverly and had a draw and a majority decision against Gabriel Campillo. Those just happen to be the biggest “names” on Murat’s resume.
A five-inch reach disadvantage and a massive discrepancy in the experience department only adds to Murat’s troubles when the two step into the ring. It’s evident that Hopkins will be the wily veteran he always is and keep everything in his control.
The punch output will be conservative, yet effective, for Hopkins. Honestly, there isn’t much Murat can hope for except for Father Time to have his way with Hopkins. It won’t be close and Murat will simply make Hopkins look as good as ever.
Record: 4-1 [Alvarado UD 12 Provodnikov]
Bernard Hopkins UD 12 over Karo Murat: About the only uncertainty heading into this one seems to be whether Bernard Hopkins can finally win by knockout for the first time since he stopped Oscar De La Hoya nine years ago.
Karo Murat made the same promise Tavoris Cloud made seven months ago, that he’ll be the fighter to finally send Hopkins into retirement. Based on his resume and what I’ve seen from him on YouTube, that seems highly unlikely.
Record: 14-6 [Alvarado UD 12 Provodnikov]