Bernard Hopkins turns 48 in January. On March 9, he might be going for yet another world title.
With Hopkins' fight date already set for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and airing on Showtime, Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer said tonight that all that stands in the way of Hopkins facing Tavoris Cloud is the IBF's approval of Hopkins as a world title challenger.
That may sound easy on paper, but Cloud has an IBF mandatory in Karo Murat, so there might have to be some sort of side deal with Murat to get him to step aside. Hopkins likely has no interest in fighting Cloud without a world title on the line, as he'll be seeking to break his own record as the oldest man in boxing history to win a major belt.
Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KO) hasn't fought since a convincing loss to Chad Dawson on April 28 of this year, and there was some doubt that he'd fight again after dropping his title to a younger man. But Bernard never seriously talked retirement himself, and with Dawson still holding the WBC belt, that leaves Cloud (IBF), Nathan Cleverly (WBO), and Beibut Shumenov (WBA) as potential opponents for March. Cleverly has reportedly been discussed, but Hopkins may not be high on the idea. Shumenov doesn't seem like he's really in the picture at all.
Cloud (24-0, 19 KO) is a 30-year-old American who, like Cleverly and Shumenov, remains relatively unknown in the States, and would like a big fight. He hasn't been in the ring since a robbery victory over Gabriel Campillo in February 2012, as an August date with Jean Pascal was scrapped due to an injury.
Promoted by Don King, Cloud is hardly a hot property, though that's not really any fault of his own. When he's signed to fight, he fights, and he brings an effort. Of the three titlists Hopkins could face on the date, Cloud has advantages, such as being American, and also he might be the most stylistically favorable matchup of the three for Hopkins. Cloud can be quite fun to watch, but he also makes a lot of mistakes, and has the sort of aggression Hopkins likes to feed off of with opponents.
There have been rumblings that this would be the fight lately, so Schaefer confirming isn't any major surprise. If the deal can be done with the IBF, it's a fine fight for Hopkins -- as good and appealing as anything he could reasonably take at this point.
HT: Mark Ortega