PHILADELPHIA (AP) — By now, Bernard Hopkins has burned through storylines at about the rate he’s disposed of title contenders.
Even for the undisputed word-for-word champion on the boxing scene, Hopkins knows there’s not much left to say.
He went to prison.
He carries his prison ID card.
He became one of the great middleweights.
He might retire. He might not.
Did we mention he’s old?
All those warmed-over stories have had the lifespan of his one his bouts of late, one of the byproducts of fighting at a championship level for so long.
Hopkins realized it, too. If he wants to get fans excited to tune into Showtime on Saturday or take another shot at headlining a pay-per-view, Hopkins had to mix up his combinations like it was the decisive 12th round of a title bout.
So, say long to “The Executioner.”
“The Alien” has landed.
Hopkins insists he has retired “The Executioner” persona that has defined him for most of the last two decades.
“I am an alien,” Hopkins said, “because I am of this world, but I’m not from this world.”
The 48-year-old Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KOs) will descend from the mothership Saturday night and extend his own record as the oldest fighter to defend a major championship when he puts his share of the light heavyweight title on the line against Karo Murat (25-1-1, 15 knockouts) in Atlantic City, N.J.
Hopkins proved his commitment toward The Alien alias at a recent workout in his Philadelphia gym, taking jabs at the bag dressed in black shorts, red shirt, and a gray mask with egg-shaped purple eyes, a sneak preview of what he’ll wear on his walk to the ring at Boardwalk Hall.
“You stick around this long,” trainer Naazim Richardson said, “you can come out in a diaper, if you want to.”
Hopkins also made TV appearances in Philly wearing a more traditional green alien mask.
Green or gray for fight — or is it fright — night?
That seems to be the only true suspense for Hopkins, who has started making noise about fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. early next year. That’s a long shot for Hopkins, though his role as a promoter for Golden Boy could work toward his advantage, but he can ill-afford to slip against the little-known Murat. Hopkins rebounded from a pair of ugly fights against Chad Dawson to defeat Tavoris Cloud in March and win the IBF light heavyweight championship.
In the latest edition of the X-ecutioner Files, Hopkins tried to flip the script at his workout, refusing to take questions from reporters. While jumping rope, or sparring, he simply let out a steady stream of consciousness about his career, his legacy, and what’s ahead for a fighter aiming at defending a championship at 50.
“I know you all have questions to ask me, but there isn’t really that much you can ask me,” he said.
“Let me do the talking. What can you ask me that you haven’t heard for the last three decades? What are you going to ask me? Are you going to win? Are you ready? If I’m not, I’m going to show up anyway.”
Waiting for Hopkins is Murat, who walked into a title shot without as much as a signature victory. Murat, born and raised in Iraq before moving to Germany, has also stuck to the script that so many of Hopkins’ victims tried before. The 30-year-old Murat is banking on being younger, hungrier, and eager to be the fighter that finally knocks out Hopkins as the reasons he can phone home a winner.
“You see the mileage on him,” Murat said. “So to me he looks like a 48 year old. He doesn’t have the speed anymore he may have had at 30 years old. He tries to clinch a lot and to win the fight through his experience, and that’s it.”
Yes, but Murat fails to realize Hopkins is only 48 in human years. There’s no telling how old he is in space years.
Hopkins, not a stylistically pleasing fighter but efficient at what he does, intends to go out on top and not let Kurat get in his way.
The undercard features Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin against Philadelphia’s Gabriel Rosado in a 12-round WBO middleweight championship bout, and also heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Nicolai Firtha in a 10-round WBC Continental Americas championship fight.
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