By Rick Scharmberg and Kurt Wolfheimer at ringside
Photos: Top Casino/SHOWTIME
IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs) successfully defended his title for the first time with a lopsided unanimous decision win over mandatory challenger Karo Murat (25-3-1, 15 KOs) on Saturday night at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The scores were 119-108 (twice) and 117-110. In the co-feature, Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (30-0, 22 KOs) overcame a stiff challenge from WBO #9-ranked “King” Gabriel Rosado (21-7, 13 KOs) to defend his WBO middleweight title for a second time. Rosado suffered a deep cut on his left eyelid, and the bout was stopped 40 seconds into the tenth round. World-ranked Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (30-0, 30 KOs) kept his perfect knockout streak alive with a fourth round KO over rugged trial horse Nicolai Firtha (21-11-1, 8 KOs) in a scheduled ten round heavyweight bout for Wilder’s WBC Continental Americas title. All three bouts were televised on Showtime Championship Boxing on a card promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
The Executioner’s mask was exchanged for an Alien outfit, but in the end it was a vintage Bernard Hopkins who took IBF #2-rated Karo Murat to school. He didn’t get the stoppage he wanted, but it was a convincing victory nonetheless.
Hopkins studied Murat in the first two rounds. Murat appeared to win both with single punches to the body while Hopkins measured him with his jab. But by round four, the old master had Murat all figured out.
Murat opened the third round with a solid left hook to the head to which Hopkins stuck out his tongue. Hopkins followed up with a lead right that would snap Murat’s head back repeatedly for the remainder of the fight.
Hopkins worked his jab in round four and landed a crisp counter left hook a minute into the round. He fired a right to the body and then to the head of Murat before going back to his jab. Hopkins landed a nice right hand in the closing seconds and Murat landed a left hook at the bell. Hopkins slipped most of what Murat offered, and rolled with the punches that managed to land.
The fifth round saw Murat landing a right uppercut early, but Hopkins dominated the round by landing a series of lead right hands, including a big one at the bell.
Round six was closer, but things began to get rough on the inside. Murat would hold Hopkins, and Bernard would continue punching because referee Steve Smoger allowed them to fight their way out. During one such exchange near the end of the round, Hopkins tumbled to the canvas while wrestling with Murat on the inside. Murat took two swings at Hopkins when he was down, and was issued a warning by ref Smoger.
Hopkins went for the knockout in round seven. He didn’t get it, but he won the round real big. After Murat landed a left to the body and a hook to the head, Hopkins landed a left – right to the head, followed by a left to Murat’s body. Hopkins came right back with a big four-punch combinations that hurt Murat on the ropes. Murat held Hopkins, but was docked a point for hitting on the break. Hopkins continued his assault with a lead right hand followed by a hard left – right combination. He rocked Murat with a counter right hand at the bell.
Hopkins opened round eight with a huge lead right hand followed by another right. Another right hand opened a cut on Murat’s left eye, which would bleed the rest of the way. Murat continued to hold on the inside but the wily champion would have none of it. During one exchange on the inside, Hopkins worked Murat over along the ropes and nearly had his knockout.
Murat continued to hold and occasionally got Hopkins into a headlock in the ninth round, but it was Hopkins who mauled Murat when things got close. Hopkins landed a series of hard shots, including left – right combinations, left hooks, and a barrage to the body. Murat managed a rally near the end of the round and pinned Hopkins in a corner, but it was another round in the bank for the champion.
Hopkins controlled rounds ten and eleven from the outside, taking the tenth with his jab and left hooks, and the eleventh with a huge lead right hand that proved Karo Murat has a pretty good chin.
The final round was close, but once again Hopkins had the edge. With Murat’s eye a bloody mess, Hopkins landed three lead rights, one of which caused Murat to turn his back. Hopkins continued to punch, and Murat righted himself but was met with a hard counter left hook. Murat went to the body with two lefts, and Hopkins closed the fight with another lead right.
After successfully defending the title he took from Tavoris Cloud last March, Hopkins said, “Richard Schaefer said we have to be crowd pleasers. People all want to see skills, but they also want to see a little blood, and I still have a little bit of blood to give them. I’m an entertainer. I still can be smart, but to knock a guy out, you have to take risks. I took some risks tonight and I got hit with some shots.
“Murat is a game number-one contender, and I did what I had to do. He’s a comer. He comes and he stalks. He’s not a quick guy, but he’s a thumping, sledge hammer type of guy. He throws pretty good punches, and he’s nobody to sleep on.”
Hopkins continued to beat the drum for a potential bout with Floyd Mayweather.
Quillin gets by Rosado
In The co-feature of the evening, Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin successfully defended his WBO middleweight title with a tenth round stoppage of “King” Gabriel Rosado due to an unfortunate cut over the left eye of Rosado. The fight however, was a back and forth battle that had intrigue action as well as differing opinions from the officials and commentators.
Quillin opened strong and appeared to take control of a tactical battle in the opening two rounds with strong counters. Late in the second, Kid Chocolate” delivered a hard one two combination in the corner which sent Rosado down to a knee.
The knockdown seemed to inspire Rosado, who backed up Quillin throughout round three. “Kid Chocolate” made the round close with a hard counter with just seconds to go in the round.
The fight continued to turn in the fourth as Rosado’s power started to show when he again backed Quillin up with a good left hook and body work. The Brooklyn native was game and looked like a spider trying to lure a fly into his web by stepping back and landing short counters as the round progressed. It looked like he would win the round, but in the last thirty seconds a Rosado right hand wobbled Quillin, who retreated to the ropes. Rosado jumped on the WBO champ with a four punch combination, but the bell sounded to end the round which saved Quillin from taking further damage.
King Gabriel Rosado, who has become a blood and guts Warrior, continued to back up the champ throughout the fifth. Rosado’s confidence was growing by leaps and bounds as he put his left hand behind his back while in punching range to challenge the champ to come in and exchange with him. Quillin remained calm weathered the storm, and once it subsided he landed a hard uppercut and moments later a right hand. Rosado return fire with a good counter right on the button at the bell.
Round six was a back and forth battle of wills, as each fight exchanged good hooks in the early going. Quillin was busier with sharp counters, but Rosado landed the heavier shots. Rosado seemed to steal the round as he backed the champ into the corner and let go with a good left up top, forcing “Kid Chocolate” to cover at the bell.
It became a classic bull versus matador in round seven as Gabriel “King” Rosado continued to up the attack. Quillin backed up and landed his best punch of the night with a short upper cut and then swung away. Rosado would not back down and moment later he returned fire with a good four punch combination. Rosado again trapped Quillin on the ropes and both fighters went toe to toe. Quillin got caught with a good left uppercut that popped up his head during the exchange.
Rosado continue to walk the champ down in the eighth round and hit his mark with stiff jabs. Quillin caught Rosado with a nice counter it became a back and forth affair as both warriors exchanged big shots in the final minute of the round.
Quillin’s jabs started to take their toll in round nine as Rosado’s left eye began to redden. Rosado continue to attack, banging a right hand off the champ’s jaw and followed it up with a heavy one two. It looked like Rosado was on his way to breaking down the champ, when a counter left jab by Quillin changed the fight as it opened a big cut over the left eye of the challenger.
Rosado came out for the tenth with a hard right hand, but the blood was spurting out of the cut. Referee Allen Huggins, stopped the action and brought the ringside physician into the ring to take a look at the cut. Rosado begged for the fight to continue, saying he could see, but the ringside physician thought the cut was too bad and waived the fight off, giving Quillin the victory at forty seconds of the tenth round.
The pro Rosado crowd in Atlantic City voiced their feelings, as a sea of boo’s erupted throughout Boardwalk Hall. The loud boo’s changed to cheers when Rosado asked the crowd if they would like to see a rematch.
The scorecards were revealed with shocking results as all three judges had Quillin way ahead. One official had it 87-83 while the other two judges saw it at 89-81 and an unbelievable 90-80. HBO saw it differently as two of the three ringside commentators had the fight even, while the third even had Rosado up by one point.
Rosado voiced his displeasure with the result afterward at the press conference. “I feel that boxing has softened these days. It needs to go back to what it was in the eighties. This fight would have never been stopped back in the day. Gatti and Ward had cuts worse than this and they let the fights go forward. Those were great fights and we would have never have had those legendary battles if they hadn’t let them go forward.
“The referee and the doctor ruined what could have been a great finish. They should have never have stopped this fight. It was a competitive fight. It was a close fight going into those last rounds,” said Rosado.
“In a championship fight, it gets real when you go into those championship rounds. I was feeling confident and I never let that cut bother me. I was the aggressor and the referee came over and stopped the fight. I had worse cuts over the same eye in my fight with Triple G and the referee let it ride. When a fight is close, you should let the fight ride out. They stopped it prematurely. It was too competitive of a fight for them to stop it. I was begging the referee not to stop it. At least give me this last round. I just feel they ruined a great fight. This fight deserves a rematch and it will be even greater than the first one.”
As for the scorecards, Rosado minced no words: “For two judges not to give me any rounds and one judge only giving me one round is ridiculous. Two of the commentators had it even and one had me ahead by a round. For judges to have me not winning any rounds and one to have only one round for me is a disgrace. Those judges need to be suspended. We need to make a change in this sport. Judges are ruining fighter’s lives. I am the type of fighter that I live and breathe boxing. I deserve a fair shot. If I would have dropped Peter Quillin in the last three rounds, I still would have lost the fight. That is just crazy.”
“I take nothing away from Peter he is not a champion for nothing. He worked hard to get where he is at. I think Peter has a great attitude and that is what makes him a great champion.”
Quillin spoke on the fight afterward and how difficult it was to go on with the fight. “When you grow up with rats and roaches, it makes you hard. Going through what I have experienced in life, has made me look differently than the regular person does. I don’t have black in my heart. I want to see everyone win even Gabe (Rosado). I am very fortunate to be where I am at, so at the end of the day, as longs as I keep the truth inside of me then I am not losing anything.”
When asked about the rematch the WBO middleweight champion was quick to respond: “I would say why not. However, I am not Richard Schaefer, I am not Al Haymon. I am not the matchmaker that makes the fights. I am not Showtime. My job is to go into the gym and to prepare for these fights that they present to me.”
Wilder bombs Firtha
Deontay Wilder won the heavyweight bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, hence his nickname “The Bronze Bomber”. He entered the ring against Nicolai “Stone Man” Firtha dress in a bronze ensemble which featured a bronze mask in keeping with the theme.
Firtha, who is good enough to have lasted the distance against Johnathon Banks and former world champion Alexander Povetkin, took the fight right to Wilder at the opening bell. He came out winging, hoping to surprise the heavy favorite. The tactic worked for a minute after a jab knocked Wilder back and off balance a minute into the fight.
Wilder held briefly before gathering himself and began landing pinpoint jabs. Wilder dropped Firtha with a counter right hand two minutes into the opening round. Firtha didn’t appear to be hurt, but Wilder caught him with a left followed by a right to the side of the head that sent him down again. Firtha went back to his corner with a terrible nosebleed that kept his cut man Joey Eye busy between rounds.
Round two was all Wilder. He kept Firtha back on his heels with a sharp jab, behind which Wilder fired a left hook or a right hand. Wilder landed a big right hand midway through the round, and jarred Firtha with a hard one – two at the bell.
Wilder continued landing his jab early in round three. At one point he landed a left – right – right combination that sent Firtha back and into a sitting position on the second rope. It could have been called a knockdown, but referee Lindsey ruled it a push.
Wilder was in full control, as he landed an assortment of shots in the first minute of the fourth round. He hurt Firtha with a left hook followed by a right uppercut. Wilder then landed a booming right hand that sent Firtha down hard on his back. Firtha gamely tried to rise, but referee Page wisely stopped the fight without a count at the 1:26 mark.
Wilder has yet to go beyond four rounds in his 30-bout professional career.
“I told everybody that Firtha was a tough dude,” said Wilder after the fight. “Records don’t always tell the whole story. He felt that he had something to prove to me. This is what I wanted – to box and have fun. I used my combinations, my tremendous jab, and fast left hook. I told everyone that Firtha was coming to fight.”
Romero wears down Galindo
Dominican Olympian Wellington Romero impressed with a one sided four round unanimous decision in his debut over a game junior welterweight Victor Galindo (1-3). Galindo pressed the attack in the early going, but he just couldn’t match the hand speed or the power of the former Dominican Olympian who banged heavy combinations to both the body and head. The damage done by Romero showed in round three as Galindo was bruised and swollen on both cheeks. He wouldn’t quit though, and valiantly stood in there in the fourth and final round desperately looking to get through the combinations with a good shot that would turn the fight. The damage was done though and his punch output dwindled as Romero banged away until the final bell. All three judges gave every round to Wellington Romero by scores of 40-36 across the board.
Ochoa wins by a jab
Undefeated lightweight Zachary Ochoa (5-0,3 KOs) methodically won a less than crowd pleasing fight, using almost exclusively left jabs to take a one sided unanimous decision victory over Michael Doyle(2-6, 1 KO). Doyle made the opening round close with a few hard counters, but could never figure his way through the snapping jabs, that peppered him in the final three rounds. All three judges saw the bout in favor of Zachary Ochoa by scores of 39-37 x 2 and 40-36 respectively.
Santos stops Clark
Braulio “Unstoppable” Santos (11-1, 10 KOs) made quick work of David “Thunder” Clark (6-3, 4 KOs), stopping him at 1:40 of the opening round of a scheduled eight round featherweight bout. Clark came out behind several sets of popping double-jabs, while Santos jabbed to the body. Santos landed a right – double left combination, and then hurt Clark with a right. Santos followed with a right hand – left hook combination that put Clark down. When Clark got up on shaky legs, referee Davis Fields stopped the bout and save him from taking further punishment.
Wade turns the lights out on Ventura
In the opening eight round super middleweight bout of the evening, Dominic “Lights out” Wade (12-0, 10 KOs) made quick work of Robert Ventura (12-8, 12 KOs), dropping him three times, and finishing the show at 2:08 seconds of the first round with an overhand right for the third and final knockdown. Referee Ricardo Vera immediately waived the bout off, giving Wade the well-deserved TKO victory.