On October 26th, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins will make the first defense of his IBF Light Heavyweight title that he won March 9th against then undefeated champion Tavoris Cloud.
The fight will take place at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City New Jersey, and will be shown on Showtime championship boxing. Hopkins who is the oldest champion in boxing history looks to extend his own record in a mandatory title defense against once beaten Karo Murat of Germany. I recently had a chance to speak to both Bernard Hopkins and Karo Murat ahead of their upcoming fight. Here is what they had to say.
Jenna J:The question I have for you Karo is the last time a German boxer came over to the United States to fight an aging legend that was a champion was your country mate, Axel Schulz, in 1995. He came here and did not get the decision, and I’m wondering if you think you will be able to get a win if it’s close and it goes to the cards?
Karo Murat: I know I always wanted to fight in the U.S., and it’s not about Hopkins being an advantage because the fight is in the U.S. When I watched George fight and I see that outsider won, it’s not about the decision but you see the real decision when the crowd stands behind the real winner. It’s not always the guy that the judges see winning. I’m just hoping for an impartial referee, good judges and the rest is up to me.
Jenna J: Bernard, recently I had a chance to speak with Brother Naazim Richardson, and he said this type of fight are the kind of fights he hates, because the guy that you see in the ring isn’t going to be the guy that you see on video. I’m curious for you, how are you preparing to fight someone like Karo Murat? And I know most of the cases it’s how is he going to prepare to fight you, but how are you preparing to fight him?
Bernard Hopkins: I mean I take every fight seriously, and Naazim Richardson thinks like I think because everybody know the big names in the light heavyweight division, and everybody knew the big names that I fought in the middleweight division. You can prepare for them easier than you can prepare for a guy that, you know, nobody actually knows and never fought anybody in the states or anybody that’s on my level. It’s the fighter. It’s the person itself. It’s me. It’s how I approach it mentally, physically and prepare for.
That’s what makes Naazim feel, on that part, a lot better because he knows he’s dealing with a guy that don’t look at anybody as, “He’s not this guy so I’m going to be light in training or I’m going to be light in my thinking or I’m just going to over look this guy.”
That’s the tricky part of a veteran compared to a younger guy. A younger guy will probably blow it off, “Well he’s no big name, just a mandatory. Let me go in and do and what I got to do and get out.”
No, I don’t look like that, because A.) I’m at the age where I can’t have a mental block, and B.) If this big fight is what I want to do before I leave, I must get past the roadblock. I must get passed the mandatory obligation.
So these fights can be nagging. It’s been a pain, really, in a way ever since it’s been postponed. So it’s been more than just what Naazim was saying, which is true, but it’s even further that it should’ve been over with July 13.
But nevertheless, he has more time. He got more time. He needed more time, and he got it. Fine. I enjoyed my summer with my family. I had a chance to get to the business part of the promotion with Golden Boy, and now we here. So pick back up the pieces. Start back up. Go do it again, and now we here.
So I’m prepared to do what I have to do, but this is the unique-Bruce said it earlier. Somehow, sometime, people, not all of us, take certain things for granted, and I’m going to make sure I do all I can so no one takes me for granted before I leave the game.
Because there’s going to be more eye-opener stuff and mouth-dropping stuff that peoples going to say, “This is amazing. Where do we put this guy? Where do we put this legend? Where do we put this icon?” Whatever name you want to give me, “Where do put him at before he leaves?” And that starts, to me, 20 something years ago, but it also starts right now.
Jenna J: You said that you see the light at the end of the tunnel with this particular fight and at your particular age. Do you think a stumble against Karo Murat could mean the end for you, because he’s not the type of level fighter that you’re usually used to fighting? If you have a stumble here, do you think that could be the end?
Bernard Hopkins: The thing is, I mean, it would definitely be good for me. It definitely won’t be good for what I have in my plan. I’m not preparing to come to another guy’s level. I learned no matter what I have to make this guy bigger than what he is. I make this guy as threatening as he is.
My sparring partners was really, really vicious dudes, and they was coming, and one of them was a cruiserweight, and I had to use my legs to get away, not try to use strength for strength. Why do that? Use my brains. Use my intelligence.
Today, in the world of boxing, man, in the world we live in now, boxing is sort of a curse to be a slick boxer right now. You know what I mean? So I mean it’s a curse. I don’t if the MMA the UFC had anything to do with that, to influence that. But, you know, I’m from the sweet science, as you mentions all the time when I read articles, and the sweet science, you have to know what that means if you understand boxing. So I prepare to fight anyone.
I mean I had 20 mandatories in the middleweight division, and I’m not going to sit here on the phone to anybody who’s listening and say all of them were the hall of fame fighters. They shoved it on the table. I’m not going to say down my throat, but I had a choice, fight them or move on or get a title fight.
So this is another situation, deja vu all over again, but I will not go in there knowing that this is the carrot that’s hanging out there for anybody that likes titles, these young guys like titles, anybody that wants a unification, anybody that wants to do it. Now, you can have a title.
So it’s back to déjà vu. Here’s a title. Come get it. Here’s the caviar. Here’s the bait for the fish. So trust me, Karo Murat is not a guy I’m sleeping on and under estimating, and he’s going to see that early. Can’t nobody fight for me. Can’t nobody fight for him.
They’re going to call me, probably, which is not a popular name right now, they’re going to call me a bully. After next Saturday they’re going to say, “Oh, Bernard is-“So it’s really not a win-win for me. It’s really like, okay, it’s a throwaway fight, but I’m not treating it like that, but I know others are. So I’m not going to gain more superstardom because of Karo Murat.
I mean, I’m no fool, but I might be called a bully. Okay, I’ve been called that in high school, elementary school, in the streets, in boxing when I was a middleweight. Hey, so it’s cool. I mean I’m not saying that I accept it, but it’s cool. You can do what you want to do, but at the end of the day the story becomes, “He beats Bernard Hopkins.” That’s the story. I beat him; what else is new? So I understand that.
So it’s more than just Karo Murat. It’s a lot of intangibles that surround this name and this fight, and I have the ability and the mindset to handle all that because that’s what I do. And that’s what I’ve been doing basically the majority of my career, handling difficult situations that will break the average man.
Karo Murat: “It’s not about the decision, the real decision is when the crowd stands behind the real winner. It’s not always the guy the judges see winning”
Bernard Hopkins: “Everybody knows the big names in the light heavyweight division and everybody knew the big names I fought in the middleweight division. You can prepare for them easier that you can prepare for a guy nobody actually knows.”