Hopkins vs Cloud receives 'tentative' approval from IBF

Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

The IBF has 'tentatively' approved a March 9 fight between light heavyweight titleholder Tavoris Cloud and Bernard Hopkins.

The International Boxing Federation (IBF) has "tentatively" approved a fight between light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud and Bernard Hopkins for March 9, according to The RING, with speculation that the fighters must agree that the winner will face mandatory challenger Karo Murat.

Cloud (24-0, 19 KO) and Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KO) would meet at the Barclays Center on HBO, with Keith Thurman in the co-feature. The fight has been agreed to, it seems, for a while now, but the sanctioning body's approval was necessary. Hopkins, turning 48 on January 15, has no desire to fight in anything but world title bouts, as he attempts to break his own record for the oldest man in boxing history to win a world title. If the belt isn't on the line, he has no real incentive to fight Cloud, who turns 31 on January 10.

The fighters can certainly agree to face Murat if that's the condition, and if Cloud were to win, he might actually do it. Hopkins, of course, would almost surely not be fighting Karo Murat no matter what. The Cloud fight could be his final bout no matter what happens, but I can't imagine Hopkins continuing to fight to face an opponent like Murat, a solid contender but a no-name in the United States who adds nothing to his legacy or historical standing.

This ruling does seem to offer the possibility of the fight not happening at all, though. I'd place odds on that pretty low -- Hopkins wants to fight and wants to fight for a title, and Cloud has nowhere near an opportunity like this one (money or prestige) anywhere else. But it could happen, if the IBF's conditions aren't suitable for Hopkins.

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