Bernard Hopkins to fight Oct. 19
Light heavyweight titlist Bernard Hopkins' mandatory defense against Karo Murat has been rescheduled for Oct. 19 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com.
"We've agreed to the fight and the terms (with Murat promoter Sauerland Event) and are looking forward to Oct. 19," Schaefer said. "I had everything set up and then it fell apart. But we have to do this fight. It's Bernard's mandatory and I am committed to doing it and it will happen."
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Hopkins had been scheduled to defend against Murat on July 13 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the main event of a Showtime-televised card. However, the fight was called off in mid-June when Murat, of Germany, was denied a visa by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for reasons that were not announced and he was unable to enter the country.
When immigration attorneys told Golden Boy that it might take up to six months for Murat's visa problems to be resolved, the fight was called off.
With Murat apparently unable to fight in the U.S., the IBF, whose belt Hopkins holds, dropped Murat from the mandatory position and appointed contender Sergey Kovalev. However, Kovalev elected to take another fight -- he'll challenge titlist Nathan Cleverly for his version of the 175-pound title instead on Aug. 17 in Wales -- and Murat's visa situation was surprisingly resolved about two weeks later.
Although the July 13 card already had been called off, Murat was re-installed as the mandatory and the fight with Hopkins was rescheduled.
Schaefer hoped to do it at the Barclays Center, where Golden Boy is the exclusive promoter, but the venue was not available, leading him to bring the fight to Atlantic City, a place Hopkins prefers to fight in anyway as it is so close to his hometown of Philadelphia.
"I'm happy to get a chance to go back to Atlantic City. I didn't think I'd be going back based on the relationship we have with the Barclays Center," Hopkins told ESPN.com on Friday, when he was on his way to the funeral of his grandmother, Aletha Hopkins, who died at age 99. "I've always done good selling tickets in Atlantic City. I've had some of my biggest moments there. Unfortunately, I don't have a bigger name to fight, but I will be ready to face this guy because he wants what I have."
Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KOs) is 48 and broke his own record on March 9 by becoming the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a world title when he easily outpointed Tavoris Cloud. Coming back in July would have been one of his quickest turnarounds for a fight in years. But with the bout against Murat being postponed, Hopkins said it will give him a chance to rest his creaky bones and to enjoy his summer.
"I needed the rest," he said. "And it's been a long time since I had a chance to enjoy my summer. I got a chance to now with the fight being postponed so I look at it as a positive. The rest can help me. This sounds perfect to me. I get a chance to let the summer go by and not have to train in this murderous heat. I got a chance to enjoy myself for a little while and I also have some (promotional) assignments that Richard gave me. But I am in good shape. I am 187, 188 right now and I am ready to go forward with this fight."
Murat (25-1-1, 15 KOs), who will turn 30 in September and will be fighting in the United States for the first time, is not a well-known opponent but Hopkins knows that he must get past him in order to get at least one more major fight before he retires.
"I have to get this one out of the way," Hopkins said. "I still want that big fight, whatever it may be. I have what young guys want with this title. I also have a reputation and a name that they want, so I don't take of these guys lightly. Murat isn't going away, so either I beat him or he beats me."
Schaefer said although Showtime had agreed to do the fight when it was on July 13, it has not agreed to buy the fight for Oct. 19, although he and Showtime Sports boss Stephen Espinoza both said they are negotiating.
"This fight is going to happen and Bernard will make history again by defending his title at 48," Schaefer said. "The clock keeps ticking on Bernard but he keeps getting it done."
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