By Joseph Santoliquito


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Not many would remember it nor should they. Future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins was the middleweight world champion 16 years ago, still riding a bit of that wave when he had beaten Felix Trinidad in 2001.

HBO came to Philadelphia to broadcast what was supposed to be “a major fight.” It turned out to be an utterly forgettable Hopkins’ title defense against a Frenchman named Morrade Hakkar, or what some boxing folks deemed, “Pepé Le Pew.”

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Hopkins stopped Hakkar in eight in March 2003.

That was it.

It could be defined as what was supposed to be the last casino-worthy “marquee fight” in Philadelphia.

It wasn’t Hopkins’ fault that the fight bombed. It was an alphabet mandatory fight — and Hopkins got stuck defending one of his title belts.

Newly minted IFB, IBO and WBA junior middleweight champion Julian “J-Rock” Williams, and his trainer, Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, would like to stop that streak. Williams pulled off what was a mild upset, in the minds of some boxing people, when he won a unanimous decision over Jarrett Hurd in May.

Williams-Hurd was the best fight of 2019, so far.

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“It’s a huge priority that we have a big fight in Philly, and I would love to see Julian get a chance to fight on network TV in his hometown,” Edwards said. “I would like a venue like the Palestra, the Mann Music Center, the new Met, they all would be something to explore. We would like a title defense in Philly, which is where both Julian and I are from.

“But, this is a business at the end of the day. We would like to fight at home, it just has to be against the right guy. There is pressure fighting at home because family and friends are pulling you in different directions when your focus should be on the fight. We got 2.1 million views for Julian’s fight against Hurd, which was on national TV on Fox.

“Can you imagine Julian and Danny Garcia fighting on the same card in Philly, with the two flipping a coin as to who is the main event? Or, Julian, Danny and Stephen Fulton all on the same card? That’s huge—and it’s worthy of national TV attention. We have the champs in this city to do it. We definitely do.”