Tag Archives: World Boxing Association

Can Bernard Hopkins Stop Hard-Hitting Sergey Kovalev?

7 Aug

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Bernard Hopkins will take on unbeaten Sergey Kovalev in a light heavyweight unification bout sometime in November. Photo by Chris Murray.

Bernard Hopkins will take on unbeaten Sergey Kovalev in a light heavyweight unification bout sometime in November. Photo by Chris Murray.

PHILADELPHIA—For his latest age-defying act against “Father Time” in the square circle, the 49-year-old Bernard Hopkins will take on rising unbeaten World Boxing Organization champion Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev in a light-heavyweight unification bout.

Hopkins, who now calls himself the “Alien,” is looking to beat up on another younger, stronger,faster fighter. But this fight, which is scheduled to place in November either at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City or the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn —two months before his 50th birthday (Jan.15), might be the toughest in his continuing battle against aging in the ring.

Unbeaten WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev is fresh off a second round knockout of Blake Caparello on Aug. 2.

Unbeaten WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev is fresh off a second round knockout of Blake Caparello on Aug. 2.

Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 knockouts) is fresh off a devastating second-round knockout of previously unbeaten Australian Blake Caparello. In that fight, Kovalev bounced back from a flash knockdown by Caparello and then knocked him down three times before the referee called a halt to the bout at the 1:47 mark of the second round.

What makes Kovalev a tough matchup for Hopkins is that he might be the hardest puncher that the age-defying Hopkins has met at this stage of his career.

Kovalev is a methodical, straight forward fighter who can hurt you with either hand. The unbeaten Russian is a disciplined fighter who can break another fighter down by going to the body before going to the head. The first knockdown against Caparello was the result of a devastating right to the body that was pretty much the beginning of the end.

The 31-year-old native of Cheylabinsk, Russia, has knocked out his last nine opponents.

But Hopkins, who holds the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association light heavyweight titles, has been in the ring against several hard-charging, hard punching fighters like Kelly Pavlik and Antonio Tarver and has come out of those battles victorious.

Hopkins seems to relish those matches against aggressive young fighters who like to come forward so he can so he can find their weaknesses and take advantage of them. That’s why Hopkins is confident that he will get the same result against the hard-punching Kovalev and the be the oldest boxer to hold an undisputed title.

“I’ve set and broken many records, but becoming the oldest undisputed light heavyweight champion is the goal and Kovalev stands in the way of that goal,” Hopkins said. “He’s another young, hungry and just like the ones that came before him, he will leave the ring beltless.”

Over the years, I’ve learned to never to underestimate guts and guile of Hopkins. I have counted him out on numerous occasions as being too old. I have also predicted that there was going to come a point to where he was going to age in the ring.

But the crazy part about is that Hopkins has managed to prove me and several of his critics wrong more often than naught. Heck, even in his losses he hasn’t been beaten to a pulp. He has had very few cuts on his face and hasn’t been staggered or knocked down.

The big question here is whether or not Hopkins vast defensive skills and experience will be enough to withstand the vicious onslaught of Kovalev. This is a guy who has enough power in both hands to either knock another fighter into next week or have him eating soup for a few weeks with a vicious shot to the body.

“He says he is alien. He punch, I punch, then we see who gonna go to Mars,” Kovalev said.

While it’s easy for us to wonder why the hell Hopkins is back in the ring at his age in another battle against a younger, stronger, faster fighter capable of hastening his retirement with one punch, you have to give Hopkins credit for making it interesting.

It’s like an addictive reality show because with Hopkins you want to know what’s going to happen next.

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Get It On: Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight Long Overdue

9 May

The only fight that boxing fans want to see is Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Manny Pacquiao. It’s time for the two of them to stop talking and take it to the ring.

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Will Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao ever meet in the ring? Who knows.

Will Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao ever meet in the ring? Who knows.

PHILADELPHIA—Last weekend I watched unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. (46-0, 26 KOs) win a tough decision over Marcos Maidana for the undisputed world welterweight championship.

Of course, the real buzz about this particular fight was Maidana’s ability to bull Mayweather into the ropes and throw a high volume of punches while keeping him off-balance. Because we’re so used to Mayweather pitching shutouts in the ring, Maidana’s performance in the first four or five rounds had boxing fans believing that it was well worth the $75 it cost on pay-per-view.

After Mayweather pulled out the decision, folks, mainly the announcers from Showtime, were calling for a rematch between the two combatants.
Really?!

Stop!!

As entertaining as the Maidana fight was, a rematch would be a monumental waste of pay-per-view TV time. The only logical opponent for Mayweather is Manny Pacquiao (56-5, 38 KOs). Maidana, Amir Khan and Adrien Broner need to sit on the side and wait for the clash between the true titans of the sport.

For one thing, Maidana’s coming forward and throwing a large number of punches that didn’t land is not enough to call for a rematch. I could see if Maidana had knocked Mayweather down and really beat him up. But that didn’t happen as Mayweather assumed command of the fight from the sixth round forward and treated Maidana like he was a member of his “Bum of the Month” club.

It’s a shame that two of the best boxers of the current era—Mayweather and Pacquiao have yet to get in the ring and have the kind of epic showdown that’s defined the history of the sport.

You would think that boxing, a sport that has been slowly and steadily moving toward the outer rim in the sports entertainment galaxy and is slowly becoming unable to compete with football, basketball and baseball for the public’s esteem, would have pulled this off by now.

Between promoters, the politics of boxing, accusations of doping and the fighters themselves, the only fighting we’ve seen has come in the form of trash talk. Both Mayweather and Pacquiao’s camp have worked really hard to find reasons not to fight.

The problem now is that these guys are not getting any younger. Mayweather is 37 and Pacquiao is 35. At the rate these guys keep dancing around each other, they’re going to be too old for anybody to care. The window of opportunity for these two get into the ring against each other is starting to close.

If they do get in the ring, let’s hope it’s not as irrelevant as Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr., who met in a rematch that came 17 years after both fighters were well past their prime.

In the world of combat sports, boxing is facing competition from mixed martial arts, which is growing and starting to gain momentum. A Mayweather-Pacquiao in the near future would certainly be a boost to the sport.

What’s really at stake for Mayweather and Pacquiao is their respective legacies in the sport. For either one of them to stake their claim as the greatest fighter of the 21st century, they have to fight each other.

So Floyd and Manny do us a favor get in the ring and beat each other’s brains out, two or three times if possible, so you can help today’s young sports fans say the saw two of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers of all-time?

 

Hopkins Wants to Fight Floyd Mayweather Jr.

25 Apr

Boxing’s Oldest Champ wants  to unify light heavyweight crowns and then wants  a shot at Pretty Boy Floyd 

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Bernard Hopkins was back in the gym in this week after last Saturday's win over Beibut Shuemenov. Photo by Chris Murray.

Bernard Hopkins was back in the gym in this week after last Saturday’s win over Beibut Shuemenov. Photo by Chris Murray.

PHILADELPHIA—The one thing you will not see in this column about Bernard Hopkins is a line that talks about his defying the boundaries of age because with all his accomplishments in recent years.
It’s an old story, and telling it has gotten old as well.

I’m also getting out of the business of pleading with Hopkins, who turns 50 in January, to get out of the boxing game. Yes, he’s a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer as a boxer and a promoter who doesn’t have to prove a damn thing to anybody, but if he wants to keep taking (and giving) the punches, who am I to judge?
Besides, the real story with the legendary Philly fighter is always about what’s next. Nearly 48 hours after he easily dispatched Beibut Shumenov to unify half of the world light-heavyweight championship, Hopkins was training at Joe Hand’s Gym in North Philadelphia and talking about plans for future fights.

“It’s never a time to rest, especially in victory,” Hopkins said. “That’s the time to work harder and smarter …What fighter in the last 30-40 years that’s publicly made it known, win, lose or draw, that he’s in the gym Monday? This ain’t showing off, this ain’t bragging, this is what I do.”

As he approaches 50 with strands of gray popping out of his unshaven face, Hopkins wants to become the undisputed light-heavyweight champion.

And just for the sport of it, Hopkins wants to drop down in weight and take on Floyd Mayweather Jr., arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the history of the sport and definitely the greatest of his generation.

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Hopkins, who now calls himself, “The Alien”; wants a shot at Mayweather, who currently holds the World Boxing Council welterweight and World Boxing Association super welterweight championship belts.

“Yes, if it’s an opportunity to fight the baddest, one of the smartest minds, along with myself, in the game…Listen, why wouldn’t a chess player love to take on another good chess player?” Hopkins asked rhetorically.

If Hopkins gets into the ring with Mayweather, they would probably fight at 154 pounds. Hopkins said he would be able to handle that weight because he fought as Oscar De La Hoya at 154 pounds when he was the world middleweight champion.

By the way, Hopkins won that fight with a 9th-round knockout. I know that was 10 years ago. But after watching Hopkins beat up younger fighters like Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik, I’ve learned to never the count the old man out.

But while he wants to take on Mayweather, who will defend his welterweight crown against Marcos Maidana on May 3, Hopkins won’t be sitting idly by. His next goal is to unify the light-heavyweight crown by taking on unbeaten World Boxing Council champion and Ring Magazine titleholder Adonis Stevenson (23-0-1 with 20 KOs).

“I’m collecting belts in the process, I’m not sitting back there, getting fat and eating bon-bons,” said Hopkins, who owns the International Boxing Council and the World Boxing Association titles. “I’m making history, too. It’s not like I’m waiting around doing the Amir Khan thing , ‘Please give me a shot and all that stuff.

“I’m going to continue being “The Alien,” and make history. The one guy out there that’s been knocking everybody’s heads off is Adonis Stevenson. …He’s a dangerous puncher. …Any second, any chance you get hit by him, you’re going to sleep. I need that risk to be in the game at this level.”

In addition to being a crafty fighter in the ring, Hopkins is pretty good at promoting and creating storylines.

In the scenario he’s set up, Hopkins would beat Stevenson. After that, he’d take on Mayweather (45-0) who is five fights away from breaking Rocky Marciano’s record for the most wins without a loss.

“Fifty-Fifty promotions,” Hopkins said. “He has a chance to get 50 wins, I turn 50. Fifty-Fifty promotions. …I want to show that I’m the first 50-year-old to be the baddest man and biggest paying guy in the boxing business. Wouldn’t that be a great way to leave the game?”

It would be for Hopkins. But the fun part would be watching the spectacle and the buildup to it. Can you imagine the trash talk between those two? Hopkins said he would have cameras on him 24-7 so the world can see him go through his training regimen.

A Hopkins-Mayweather fight would be a huge boost to boxing. The curiosity alone would hype the fight. Criticism of the fight as an absurdity by more than a few sports writers and columnists would only add fuel to the flame. It would be “Old School versus New School.”

And win or lose, the guts that Hopkins has to even dare to embark on this journey would only solidify his stature in the sport.

The Pride of Puerto Rico: Garcia Looks Forward to Triumphant Homecoming

28 Feb

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

World Super Lightweight Champion Danny Garcia takes for a few questions from the media shortly before beginning his work out for his upcoming fight against rising contender Mauricio Herrera on March 15 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

World Super Lightweight Champion Danny Garcia takes for a few questions from the media shortly before beginning his work out for his upcoming fight against rising contender Mauricio Herrera on March 15 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.  Photo by Chris Murray.

PHILADELPHIA—There is no doubt that world super lightweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia is a beloved figure in North Philadelphia and is proud of his hometown.

But Garcia is also intensely proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and the island that is connected to it.

“I’m Puerto Rican, I was raised in Philadelphia and so I got the best of both worlds,” said Garcia, who is 27-0 with 16 knockouts. “I got the Puerto Rican power and then I got the Philadelphia toughness and the Philly skills so it comes a long way.”

Because of this, Garcia’s next fight will be a sort of homecoming. Garcia, who holds both the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association titles, will be his titles up against against veteran contender Mauricio Herrera (20-3, seven knockouts)  in Bayamon, Puerto Rico on March 15 at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez.

“I think it means a lot to me just to reach out to my fans in Puerto Rico,” Garcia said. “They don’t have a champion right now, so I’m going to go out there and win this fight March 15 to solidify being a Puerto Rican champion.”

For  Garcia’s father and manager, the irrepressible Angel Garcia, having his son fight in Puerto Rico is a personal source of pride for him, especially considering some of the all-time great Puerto Rican champions like Alfredo Escalera, Wilfred Benitez and Wilfredo Gomez.

“I want Danny to give back to his culture. I’m 100 percent Puerto Rican, my wife is 100 percent Puerto Rican. To me, it’s an honor for him to fight in Puerto Rico,” Angel Garcia said.

“A lot of great champions come from Bayamon and March 15 there’s going to be another great champion fighting in Bayamon and it’s going to be Danny Garcia. …He’s still going to be the undefeated champion of the world.”

Garcia was at his gym in Northeast Philadelphia Wednesday going through the rigors of his workout in preparation for his fight against the 33-year-old Herrera, whose biggest win was in 2011 when he won a 12-round unanimous decision over World Boxing Organization champion Ruslan Provodnikov.

To say that 2013 was a very good year for Garcia would be an understatement. After a win over former world champion Zab Judah, he won a tough, hard-fought unanimous decision over Argentine knockout artist Lucas Matthysse.

The Matthysse fight was one that no one expected Garcia to win. After battling through an early barrage from Matthysse, Garcia assumed command of the fight from the middle to late rounds. In the 11th round, Garcia put Matthysse on the canvas with a knockdown to ensure that he got the win by decision.

Garcia has appreciated the whirlwind 2013 created for him.

“It’s been a good learning experience for me and a good journey,” Garcia said.

His father, Angel, sees a fighter whose peaking at just the right time.

“He’s gotten an older, not old as an old man, but as a young man,” Angel Garcia said. “He learns from every fight. A man learns until he dies. He’s better right now. He punches harder now than before.”

Coming into the Herrera fight, Garcia is in the unusual position of being the favorite in the minds of some boxing experts.

To him, that means nothing.

“The day I stop taking it seriously is the day I stop boxing,” Garcia said. “Anytime you step in the ring the other person is trying to hurt you, so I would never put myself in a position where I’m going into the ring and I’m not ready. I take no one lightly.”

It was widely speculated in boxing circles that world welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is scheduled to Marcos Maidana in May, would be a big-time opponent for Garcia.

But as much as Danny and Angel Garcia would like to prepare for a match with a legendary champion like Mayweather, they’re exercising patience.

Danny Garcia knows that it’s only a matter of time.

“At the end of the day, I’m building my own legacy and if the Mayweather fight comes, it comes. I’ll fight anybody. That’s why I signed up to be a boxer is to fight the best,” he said. “As far as me worrying about (Mayweather) and chasing that fight, that’s not me. I’ve never called nobody out. I stay in my own lane. I work hard. Whoever they put in front of me, that’s who gets beat up that day.”

Underdog No More: Garcia Proves He’s Among Boxing’s Best

3 Oct

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Danny Garcia (right) lobs a right the chin of Lucas Matthysee in their WBA/WBC super lightweight title fight in Las Vegas last month.

Danny Garcia (right) lobs a right the chin of Lucas Matthysee in their WBA/WBC super lightweight title fight in Las Vegas last month.

Throughout his young career, world super-lightweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia has found himself cast as the underdog by boxing insiders each time he’s stepped into the ring for a major fight.

And the unbeaten Garcia (27-0, 16 KOs) has made these skeptics eat their words. The 25-year-old phenom’s incredible performance in the ring has wowed the boxing world and his tenacity in the ring has made him a rising star.

Like most Philly fighters, Garcia’s relentless warrior mentality is one that can’t be taught.

“I’m a different fighter, it’s in me, it’s in my spirit,” said the graduate of Northeast Philadelphia’s George Washington High School. “Most guys have to learn to be a fighter. That’s the difference between me and these guys.  They want to be a fighter. I am a fighter, first. I can do both (a boxer and fighter). What they learn, I already know. It’s in my spirit.”

That was the case in Garcia’s last title defense against heavily favored Lucas Matthysse, who had knocked out or stopped his last six opponents. A good number of boxing experts were predicting that the young North Philadelphia fighter would get knocked out.

In an action-packed fight in which he struggled early, Garcia won a unanimous decision over Matthysse last month to retain his World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council titles in the 140-pound division. It was the co-main event on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez undercard.

Early in the fight Matthysse, who has the ability to end a fight with just one punch, seemed to have the upper hand on Garcia, who didn’t get hurt and managed to stay on his feet by avoiding some of Matthysse hardest punches.

“It was even in the first couple of rounds, I stuck to my game plan, I’m a true champion, I make adjustments,” Garcia said.

The adjustment that Garcia made was the use of his left-hook to Matthysse’s head and body.  By the seventh round, Garcia’s punches eventually took their toll on Matthysse, swelling his right eye shut. From that point, the challenger didn’t see the flurry left and rights peppering his face and mid-section.

The young North Philadelphia fighter showed his true grit in the 11th round when a game Matthysse stung Garcia with a right that knocked his mouthpiece out.  Seemingly unfazed, Garcia bounced back with a left hook that put Matthysse on the canvas for the first time in his career.

Garcia came into that fight having already beaten some of the top names in the sport and former world champions like Amir Khan (4th Round TKO) and Zab Judah (unanimous decision). He said he’s never seen himself as an underdog. It’s something that others have imposed on him.

“I don’t even pay attention to none of that stuff. I just go in and train hard for the fight. I know what I can do. That’s something that the media has put on me, I don’t call myself an underdog,” Garcia said. “I don’t why they put that label on me but it is what it is.”

In the Matthysse fight, Garcia didn’t like the idea of being cast as the underdog because he felt he had fought a better quality of opponents than his rival.

“I don’t understand how I could be an underdog when Lucas Matthysse was the first fighter I’ve fought in five fights who wasn’t a current or past champion,” Garcia said. “He never won a world title and I’m the underdog.”

After his win over Matthysse, Garcia said he is looking to move up from the 140-pound division to the welterweight (147 pounds) where there could be some intriguing matchups.  He said it’s up to his management team to make those matches for him.

Would he fight Matthysse again? Garcia said that’s out of the question.

“A rematch is pointless because I won the fight and I was the champion,” Garcia said. “If he was the champion, I would have to give him a rematch but he wasn’t the champ. He was the challenger, he lost.”

Some boxing observers said there is the possibility that Garcia would fight Mayweather, who methodically picked apart Alvarez in the same night Garcia defeated Matthysse. There’s also unbeaten WBA welterweight champion Adrien Broner (27-0, 22 KOs), who has a huge fight in December against Marcos Maidana of Argentina (34-3, 31 KOs).

“Whoever they put in front of me, I’m going to make a great show out of it, give them they want and win the fight,” Garcia said.

Given his ability to come up with big performances against seemingly better opposition, Garcia sees no limits in his potential to being one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

“I’m getting better and better with each fight and with every fight I’m showing something new,” Garcia said. I’m only 25-years-old. In a couple of years, God knows how good I’ll be. “