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One For The Holy Rollers: Bernard Hopkins W12 Karo Murat

Oct 26, 2013; Atlantic City, NJ, USA; Bernard Hopkins walks to the ring to face Karo Murat (not pictured) in a IBF Light Heavyweight title bout at Boardwalk Hall. Hopkins won via unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City turned into Area 51 last night, as Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins decisioned little-known and soon-to-be-forgotten Karo Murat over 12 typically dreadful rounds. Hopkins-Murat promised to be an aesthetic disaster. Want proof? Look no further than the press conference Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime held earlier in the afternoon. There is no better way to get in the public’s good graces than to give them something free, which is what Showtime did, diverting attention from the foregone conclusions slated for the ring on Saturday night by announcing that the Broner-Maidana card would not be on pay-per-view.

There is still a constituency that crushes on Hopkins; those who slurp up the bombastic rhetoric, and act like misty-eyed Holy Rollers at the mention of the renegade who fought the system until he could profit from it. For such acolytes, Saturday night must have been a veritable Bacchanal. Hopkins dusted off the Tickle Trunk for the hapless Murat, supposedly because he fancies himself an entertainer. It might be more genuine to say the Murat was dusted off for that purpose.

Having retired the ironic “Executioner” moniker and the S&M headgear that went with it, Hopkins shuffled to the ring in a bright green alien mask. This shtick goes over like gangbusters with Hopkins’ fans (think of Hulk Hogan cupping his ear to the crowd). Hopkins is more than a mask though, he is a fighter—cagey as they come. Murat, who had no business sharing a ring with Hopkins, would soon learn just what the curmudgeon’s caginess entailed.

Five seconds into the bout, the fighters clinched—already Hopkins was getting Murat to fight his fight. Not yet discouraged, Murat, Kitzingen, Germany, let his hands go, tagging Hopkins with a smattering of punches when the old man lingered on the ropes. Hopkins looked for opportunities to score with counters, and worked hooks into Murat’s gut. Round three ended with a headlock, as Murat, already frustrated by his antagonizer’s grab bag of unsavory charms, cinched up Hopkins’ dome in retaliation.

As he has done for ages, Hopkins, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, found the timing on his lead right, and started potshotting Murat. Feeling his mojo working in round five, Hopkins kissed Murat twice in clinches, held and hit him at the end of the round, and punctuated his dominance with a right hand after the bell. This is how you move the crowd when you last registered a stoppage the year “The Passion of the Christ” was revolting moviegoers. Murat, 174, was huffing as if gripped by an anxiety attack by the sixth round. Alas, there was no brown paper bag in his corner.

Referee Steve Smoger, the patron saint of morbid bystanders, molested Murat nearly as often as Hopkins did, and docked him an inconsequential point for hitting on the break in the seventh. By that point the fight was academic; Murat proved as clueless and ineffectual as anticipated. How clueless and ineffectual you ask? Well, Hopkins, he of the minimalist approach to combat, indulged in a number of lukewarm exchanges with Murat over the remainder of the bout, slapping the younger man around. The exercise in tedium complete, scores read 117-110, 119-108, 119-108 for Hopkins.

There is more to glean from Hopkins’ dominance than the old man’s pedigree. He is without question an anomaly; a once great fighter who gets over with maniacal discipline, and an understanding of his craft lost on those handed success. But a 48 year-old should not be able to perform near the top in a bloodsport. If he can, and Hopkins, 54-6-2 (32), clearly still can, a dearth of quality opponents must help explain his longevity. There are light heavyweights—concussive punchers like Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson, for example—who could impose the natural order of things. But Hopkins, snuggled up with Golden Boy Promotions, need never entertain those risks. In his post fight interview, Hopkins pledged his loyalty to Showtime and Golden Boy, which means HBO fighters like Kovalev and Stevenson are conveniently out of the running. His loyalty hasn’t always meant much, but Hopkins is a survivor, and he knows a good deal when he has one.

To his credit, Murat, 25-2-1 (15), remained active for far longer than most Hopkins foes, who are psychologically cowed early. But the gap in class between Murat and his grizzled tormentor eventually bore out. Murat was brought over to make a notoriously ugly fighter look good. Having succeeded, he should not expect a second invitation.

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Topics: Adonis Stevenson, Bernard Hokpins, Karo Murat

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  • HitDog

    Also revolting: Smoger, after a fight that actually included him slap-pushing Murat, hugged and kissed Hopkins, his friend. The deification of Smoger as everyone’s favorite semi-lassez-faire referee took a few steps back for those, like me (home with Strep) cursed to watch last night’s fight.

    • thenonpareil

      You know, JD, Smoger is also one of the boxing guys with a shady past:

      From TCS:

      Boxing is a sewer from top to bottom. Certain fighters, promoters, and
      matchmakers, for example, have done substantial bids in prison. Even
      Steve Smoger, universally lauded as a fine referee, was barred from
      being a Municipal Court judge in New Jersey for several ethical
      violations. From the Atlantic City Press, July 4, 2002: “Former
      Municipal Court Judge Steven Smoger can never again serve as a judge in New Jersey, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. The court adopted the findings and recommendation of the judicial conduct committee that recently found that Smoger was ‘a dishonest person unfit to serve as a judge.’”

      http://thecruelestsport.com/2010/08/23/the-weepy-kind-antonio-margarito-the-media/

      But since most of the experts around today discovered boxing in 2008, they don’t know about that. (They might pretend to, though, later on.)

      If you are an opponent for Paulie Malignaggi, do you feel comfortable with Smoger being the ref after Smoger spooned him in the middle of the ring and started kissing him on the back? Just a question.

      Anyway, let me not rag on Smoger, otherwise those-who-know-everything will come after me!

      • Jimmy Tobin

        Guys, the esteemed Andy Fruman sent me some text messages that were rather harshly worded for such a refined gentleman. He was thoroughly unimpressed–thoroughly unimpressed–with Smoger.

        Smoger’s performance has been slipping the last few years, but he’s already been deified so the book is closed on him. Smoger has refereed fights that were better for his presence, but everybody gets old, and maybe it’s time the east coast commissions review his latest gigs.

        Here’s a fun game: What’s In Smoger’s Basement?
        I’ll go first: a bag of human hair.

  • thenonpareil

    Hi JT,

    funny stuff here, but you have to be careful that psychotic/ex-cons don’t come after you for not adoring their favorite fighters. Even though they spend all day on various websites leaving insane, misspelled comments, they may one day take time out from planning their latest criminal spree and come after you in person. A lot of Hopkins fans are like this.

    Anyway, this fight was awful for six rounds, and then it became a sort of camp affair with all the usual nonsense Hopkins fans adore when they are out of solitary confinement: low blows, grappling, tongues sticking out, kissing, points deductions, etc. The usual Forum Beast nonsense applies here: everyone loves the SKILLED CRAFTSMEN, but if they wear a stupid costume into the ring, start kissing overmatched opponents, and sloppily slug it out, even better.

    I have been thinking about this Alien act, and I’ve decided that it is a stroke of genius. This is exactly the kind of thing Penny-Click outlets live for, and it doesn’t take much to excite people who think Nicolai Firtha can fight. Yes, this is potent stuff for the writers who are actually publicists!

    As for Kovalev and Stevenson, I sort of put them in the Garcia-Matthysse class. Garcia is a better all-around fighter than Matthysse is, but the question was: could Garcia hold up against Matthysse’s power. If Hopkins, who has always had a granite chin, can take the big shots, then he would likely clown Kovalev and Stevenson, I think. Neither man has an inside game, and Hopkins would take it to them in close.

    • Jimmy Tobin

      You know, CA, ever his was posted I’ve been receiving prank calls. The usual stuff: heavy breathing, this or that is going to happen to my dog. I got a plan though: I’m gonna buy an alien mask, and carry it around in my bag. When they bum rush me I’ll just pull it out and start screaming about Father Time and GOAT and whatnot. Blend right in…

      Stevenson, I dunno, he can crack, but I’m not convinced. Kovalev sets things up nicely, so maybe he gets through with something that puts Hopkins to sleep. It isn’t going to happen either way, but at least there’s intrigue in those fights.

      I’m done with Hopkins. With the talking, and the theatrics, and the fouls, and the fucking costumes, and the pathological lying, the paranoia, all of it.

  • Glen

    What BHop gonna wear next? Zombie? He is so desperate for attention and big fight. If he wanted to draw fans to pay to watch him, he needs to change from a boring fighter to an exciting brawler. People don’t pay for snooze fight.

  • http://thelivingdaylights.co/ Andrew Fruman

    Hi JT, nice recap.

    I thought the fight was okay. Murat, for all his limitations, gave it a good effort. He knew he was going to get smacked with counters, but he didn’t let that stop him from letting his hands go. And despite all the clinching and fouling, there were a few good exchanges. I know, I know, this praise is mostly the product of going in with exceedingly low expectations.

    As you mentioned in responding to HD and CA, I was not a fan of Smoger’s work. I get the impression that he loves boxing and enjoys a good fight, which is nice, but his performance on Saturday night was terrible. If an official isn’t happy with a fighter’s actions, they need to issue a warning, or take a point, or disqualify the fighter. But aggressively pushing a fighter should never happen. The referee is there to officiate, not to get involved in such a manner.

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi AF, thanks buddy.

      Any entertainment value for this fight was due to Murat’s effort. And there were some decent exchanges, especially later in the fight. But it was awful, and Hopkins’ histrionics were deplorable.

      Smoger had a bad night, almost as if he’s trying to live up to his reputation or something. Maybe he was caught in the pandemonium of The Alien?

  • Greg Bellavia

    Eh. I think you sold him and the fight short. No one labeled Murat a world beater and after a few boring opening rounds it got pretty entertaining there in the middle. The “lukewarm exchanges” in 7 & 8 were pretty thrilling to me at least.

    HBO dumped him not the other way around and sadly that doesn’t leave him with a ton of options at Showtime. I’d favor Stevenson and Kovalev over Hopkins and would love to see the fights but with no end to the cold war in sight you can’t blame the guy for trying to drum up interest any way he can, it’s a business after all.

    I certainly hope I don’t sound like a slobbering fanboy, it’s just I think the performance was more entertaining than you are giving him credit for.