Light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins has made history before at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and now he is going back to try to make some more in the first defense of his second 175-pound title reign.
Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com on Thursday that Hopkins’ Oct. 15 defense against former titleholder and mandatory challenger Chad Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs), a fight that has been set for more than a month, is headed for the Staples Center.
“It does look like it will be at the Staples Center,” Schaefer said. “It’s probably 95 percent it will be there. I am just working with them to finalize our deal.”
In February 2005, Hopkins, the longtime middleweight champion before he moved up in weight, outpointed Howard Eastman at the Staples Center to record his division-record 20th (and final) middleweight title defense.
“We had a great crowd when Bernard did his historic 20th title defense and now he will do his first defense of the historic title he won against (Jean) Pascal,” Schaefer said. “I think Los Angeles boxing fans, Los Angeles sports fans, the celebrities — I think they like these kind of meaningful events. Staples Center is very excited about it.”
Schaefer had been negotiating a deal to put the fight on at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. However, Schaefer said the deal went south when building officials insisted on the involvement of Main Events, which has a close relationship with the Prudential Center and has done several boxing events there. Schaefer declined to involve Main Events in the promotion. He said he had also looked into the Izod Center in the Meadowlands complex in East Rutherford, N.J.
Both of those arenas are not far from Hopkins’ hometown of Philadelphia. However, Schaefer, whose office is walking distance from Staples Center, has a close relationship with Staples Center officials.
On May 21, Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) made boxing history again when he became, at 46, the oldest fighter ever to win a world championship, outpointing Pascal in a rematch of their December draw to win the light heavyweight title at the Bell Centre in Pascal’s hometown of Montreal.
The fight will headline an HBO PPV card. Schaefer and Gary Shaw, Dawson’s promoter, have been working on the undercard.
One of the supporting bouts has been agreed to, Schaefer said. Golden Boy fighter Jorge Linares will face Antonio DeMarco, who is promoted by Shaw, for the lightweight title recently vacated by Humberto Soto (DeMarco’s cousin).
“Gary confirmed to me that his side is in and our side is in, so it looks like that will be one of the fights,” Schaefer said.
Linares (31-1, 20 KOs), 25, a native of Venezuela who fought for much of his career in Japan, is a former junior lightweight and featherweight titlist. He recently relocated to Los Angeles to train under Freddie Roach and strength coach Alex Ariza — the same team that trains pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and unified junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan.
Linares has won four fights in a row since a shocking first-round knockout loss to Juan Carlos Salgado in October 2009, when he lost his junior lightweight title.
“Jorge Linares has been touted as one of the emerging stars of the sport but he had a setback with the first-round knockout,” said Schaefer, who compared him to unified Khan, who also suffered a shocking first-round knockout loss at lightweight before roaring back to win two belts in a heavier division.
“Amir had a similar hiccup and he lined up with Freddie and Alex, and we know what happened,” Schaefer said. “Now you have Jorge, who had a hiccup and followed up with some victories. Now he has relocated to Los Angeles and teamed up with Freddie and Alex, who he is living with. I really think that Jorge Linares teaming up with Freddie and Alex is going to make all the difference. On Oct. 15, not only will we have a new world champion within the Golden Boy stable, but somebody who will make a lot of noise in boxing.”
Mexico’s DeMarco (25-2-1, 18 KOs) has won two in a row since suffering a ninth-round TKO loss to the late Edwin Valero in a lightweight title bout in February 2010. Now, DeMarco has the opportunity to fight for the same sanctioning organization title again.
Source: Dan Rafael, ESPN.com