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Boxing | International

Executioner to fight again at 48



Bernard Hopkins, who will be 48 years old on January 5, plans to fight again early in the new year.

“The Executioner,” the oldest boxer to have won a world title, is scheduled to return to action in Brooklyn, New York, on March 9.

WBO light-heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly has been mentioned as a possible opponent.

Another durable fighter, Felix Sturm, intends to be back in the ring on February 2 – only two days after his 34th birthday.

The former WBA middleweight champion will fight Sam Soliman in an IBF title eliminator; probably in Germany.

Hopkins, an American, and Sturm, a German, have followed vastly different routes in and out of the ring but share the admiration of many boxing fans who have watched them during the past decade.

Hopkins became the oldest boxer to win a world title when, at the age of 46, he beat Jean Pascal in a fight for the WBC light-heavyweight title on May 21 last year.

He is also a former undisputed middleweight champion and became the first fighter to retain four championship belts in one bout. He defended the world middleweight title a record twenty times.

Hopkins was born in Philadelphia. At the age of 13 he was mugging people and at 17 he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for various crimes.

He took up boxing in prison and when he was released after five years he turned professional as a light-heavyweight, losing in his debut on October 11, 1988.

He returned as a middleweight and won 21 fights in a row before losing to Roy Jones Jr in a challenge for the vacant IBF middleweight title.

Hopkins won the IBF middleweight title when he stopped Segundo Mercado in the seventh round on April 29, 1995 and added the WBC belt when he defeated Keith Holmes. In September 2001 he beat WBA champion Felix Trinidad to win his third belt.

Three years later, in September 2004, he stopped Oscar De la Hoya in the ninth round of a bout for the undisputed championship, which included the WBO belt.

Hopkins has a record of 52 wins, with 32 inside the distance, 6 losses, 2 draws and 2 no-contests.

REAL NAME ADNAN CATIC

Sturm, whose real name is Adnan Catic, was an excellent amateur. He won the German light-middleweight title in 1998 and 1999 and the European championship in 2000. He represented Germany at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

After turning professional in 2001, he won 16 bouts in a row before claiming the WBO Intercontinental middleweight title. He added the WBO middleweight title by beating Argentina’s Hector Javier Velazco.

On June 5, 2004 he defended the belt against Oscar De La Hoya, who won on a highly disputed decision. It was Sturm’s first defeat.

In March 2006, Sturm defeated Maselino Masoe to claim the WBA middleweight title. He lost it to Javier Castillejo but regained it from Castillejo in a rematch in April 2007.

In one of the first title fights of the new year, Kell Brook of England will challenge Devon Alexander for his IBF welterweight belt. They are due to meet at the Las Vegas MGM Grand on January 19.

Another IBF champion, super-middleweight Carl Froch, has been named British boxer of the year.

LAST BELL

A British old-timer who beat South African Willie Toweel more than 50 years ago, has died at the age of 76.

Wally Smith, in his day the British welterweight and middleweight champion, upset Toweel, a former Empire lightweight champion, in his hometown of Nottingham on December 7, 1959.

Swift turned professional in September 1957 and retired in July 1969 with a record of 68-17-3, including 13 knockouts.

Another former British star, Johnny Prescott, died in Birmingham recently. He was a heavyweight contender in the 60s and challenged Henry Cooper for the British title in June 1965. Cooper stopped him in the tenth round. Prescott retired with a record of 34-11-4; 13.

Former IBF lightweight champion and world title challenger Johnny Lira has died in Illinois at the age of 61. He was stopped in the ninth round when he challenged Ernesto Espana for the world lightweight title in Chicago in 1979. He finished with a record of 29-6-1; 15.



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