Hopkins must defend IBF title against Murat next; Cleverly out of luck
By Scott Gilfoid: It looks like WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (25-0, 12 KO’s) can put his dreams of a unification bout against 48-year-old IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (53-6-2, 32 KO’s) on hold for the remainder of 2013 because Hopkins has to defend his newly won IBF title against his mandatory challenger Karo Murat (25-1-1, 15 KO’s) in what should be an easy title-milking fight for Hopkins.
Hopkins likely won’t be able to get an exception to bypass the Murat fight because Tavoris Cloud, the previous IBF 175 lb. champion, already was given permission to steer around Murat in order to face Hopkins.
The IBF aren’t likely going to give two exceptions in a row to bypass Murat because they obviously would realize that this would be unfair to Murat.
Hopkins can, of course, give up the International Boxing Federation title and just take the fight with Cleverly without a belt, but the fight is much bigger if it’s a unification bout than it would be if it were just a simple title defense for the 26-year-old Cleverly.
HBO will still likely televise Hopkins vs. Murat despite their being little fan interest in this fight, but I can’t see it bringing in good ratings because Murat is nothing. He was already beaten by Cleverly by a 10th round TKO in September 2010.
The German based Murat was also given a very, very controversial 12 round draw against Gabriel Campillo in October 2011. Murat appeared to lose that fight by at least six rounds, but was still given a draw.
Hopkins told ESPN that he won’t look to dodge the fight with Murat. He’ll take the fight and then move forward to whatever comes afterwards. The Hopkins-Murat fight likely won’t take place until either late summer or the fall. In other words, there won’t be time for Hopkins and Cleverly to face each other in 2013. By the time they do fight each other, Hopkins will be 49-years-old.
I think Hopkins has much better options than a fight with Cleverly. Hopkins should be looking to fight some of the top super middleweights like Mikkel Kessler or Carl Froch if they’re willing to face him at a catchweight. Heck, Hopkins might even be willing to drop down seven pounds to take a fight with one of them. It’s a lot better than facing Cleverly and no one being interested in the fight.
It looks like Cleverly will have to be satisfied with defending his title against Robin Krasigi next month and then facing former WBO light heavyweight champion Jurgen Braehmer after that.