ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — Who knew an old alien could be entertaining? While I still prefer my aliens to be of the Ridley Scott variety, Bernard Hopkins provided fans with their money’s worth despite facing an unheralded fighter in Karo Murat. The 48-year old countered, corner trash-talked and even kissed (!!!) his way to a wide unanimous decision win. Meanwhile, the undercard added some of the gore and heartbreak that can only come from the Sweet Science with Peter Quillin achieving a stoppage win over Gabriel Rosado on cuts.
Onto the highlights.
HOPKINS VS. MURAT: What does it say about Tavoris Cloud that Murat did much better against Hopkins than he did? Over the first four rounds, Hopkins found sporadic success with straight right counters but struggled to keep up with Murat’s pace. The challenger kept busy and had one of his best moments in the third when he ladned a massive left hook. Hopkins mugged for the audience to buy a little time, and got through the rest of the round without incident.
Starting in the fifth, Hopkins nailed done Murat’s rhythm and began to place his jabs and right hands better, in addition to mauling Murat inside while still getting in good body shots. Fouls were mixed in, but of course referee Steve Smoger didn’t see them (more on Smoger’s blatant favoritism later…). Hopkins hit after the bell in the fifth and even planted two kisses on Murat’s sweating back after turning him in a clinch. When Murat would try to retaliate with his own roughhousing, he’d get immediately admonished by Smoger, culminating with a point deduction for hitting on the break in the seventh.
8TH ROUND ENTERTAINMENT: By the eighth, Hopkins was landing lead rights at will and had Murat covering up. For a brief moment, it looked like a stoppage was possible, but Murat held tough. Knowing the fight was in his control, Hopkins went over to Murat’s corner and started talking to the cornermen while slipping punches. By the end of the exchanges, it was Murat who was in retreat. It was hilarious display that had the crowd roaring B-Hop chants in approval,
There wasn’t anything as dramatic in the championship rounds; Hopkins’s supreme stamina took over and the exhausted Murat couldn’t launch much offense. The scorecards were wide in favor of Hopkins at 119-108 and 117-110 twice.
SMOGER LOVES HOPKINS A LITTLE TOO MUCH: Referee Steve Smoger was on Murat’s case all night, including mushing him at the end of the 12th after Murat was leading with his head. That was ridiculous when you factor in Hopkins lead with his head (as usual) in most of the clinches and when coming in with right hands. Smoger is normally a very good ref (and his tendency to let grueling fights go a little longer was sorely needed in the Quillin-Rosado match), but this fight was not his finest moment. His blatant Hopkins love was sealed afterward by the two embracing before the scorecards were read.
QUILLIN’S WIN IS ANOTHER ROSADO HEARTBREAK: Gabe Rosado put forth another gallant effort but ultimately came up short in his championship bid as a horrific left eyelid cut forced the fight to be stopped in the 10th round.
The fight wasn’t an all-out war — the fighters instead showed off their strategic acumen and ring generalship abilities that made for an intense, tension-mounting atmosphere. Rosado fought from mid-range early on and that allowed Quillin to get off first with quicker left hooks and straight rights. This resulted in a balance knockdown against Rosado in the second round. From there, Rosado’s trainer Billy Briscoe wisely told him to start coming forward and putting the pressure on.
From that moment it was an even fight with Quillin struggling to land clean off the backfoot and getting the worst of it during the inside warfare. Rosado even succeeded in stunning Quillin with a lead right at the end of the fourth.
Whenever Rosado gave too much room or plodded in his stalking, as in rounds six and seven, Quillin was able to take control and use his faster hands to land solid shots. When Rosado stayed on him, like in the eighth when Quillin spent perilous moments trapped on the ropes, Rosado was the superior fighter.
The turning point came in the ninth when a slashing Quillin jab opened a deep cut clean across Rosado’s entire left eyelid. He made it through the round, but the punches deepened the wound.
The tenth had to be stopped for the doctor to take a look, as Rosado pleaded to finish the round. The doctor opted for health and safety over drama and emotion, and called off the bout. You could audibly hear Quillin agreeing with Rosado that the fight shouldn’t have been stopped.
@Ismael_BBM_NYK man people want to see the man with life long eye damage? Cut was to nasty
— King Ali (@TheRealKingAli) October 27, 2013
As you can see from the above comment I got on Twitter last night, not everyone was in agreement that the fight should have went on. The cut was very dangerous, but I believe Rosado should have got one more round. As he stated, he’s worked his whole life for this. Even with Vitali Kitschko’s cut against Lennox Lewis, I believe he got at least a round or two to make something happen before the fight was called. Same thing with Fernando Vargas getting some rounds against Shane Mosley even with that horror movie swelling in their first bout.
Quillin called out Sergio Martinez in his post-fight interview, but those comments are hollow. He has unfinished business with Gabe Rosado. And you know what the real tragedy of this fight was? Two socrecards had Quillin a mile in front (Kason Cheeks 90-80, Ron McNair 87-83 and Waleska Rodan 89-81). There is no doubt who was “supposed” to win this fight.
ROSADO THE MIDDLEWEIGHT: I was on record before this fight stating Quillin would be too big for Rosado. That statement has to be retracted in light of what I saw last night. Rosado was not only bigger than Quillin at the weigh-in, you could see clearly on fight night his body has filled out, especially in the legs. He’s a full-fledged 160-pounder now without question. Yes, he went through 2013 without a win, but he’s gained more fans and had his best year as a pro from a recognition and financial standpoint. His style makes him an asset on HBO or Showtime airwaves and I expect him to be back on one of them in early 2014.
DEONTAY WILDER MAKES IT 30 FOR 30: Deontay Wilder notched his 30th knockout in as many fights by dispatching Nicolai Firtha in four rounds. Firtha wasn’t intimidated and even knocked Wilder off-balance in the opening minute. His rushing pressure was soon stalled when he got smacked with a few left jabs. Then his nose became a red faucet after a few Wilder right hands. It would be a clubbing right that sent Firtha to the floor at the end of the first. Once Wilder stopped loading up haymakers, his power shots came easier and a thudding right put Firtha down for the good in the fourth.
30 knockouts and none of them against anyone worth a damn. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer wants to put Wilder in with Bermane Stiverne. With Stiverne waiting on a title shot against Vitali, they might have to settle for Chris Arreola, who in my opinion is a much more winnable, and not to mention exciting, fight for Wilder.[youtube http://youtu.be/VWrDDvXxvhw]