Liebenberg Seeks Entry Into 175lb Elite With Win Over Grachev

 Ryno Liebenberg

Ryno Liebenberg looks to fashion a place among the top dozen names in the increasingly viable looking light heavyweight landscape. Photo used with permission of Colin Nathan/Nick Lourens.

South Africa’s Ryno Liebenberg (15-0) faces the man who ended Zsolt Erdei‘s undefeated run of 33 fights when he takes on the battle tested Denis Grachev (13-3-1). Victory at Emperors Palace, Kempton Park on Saturday will elevate Liebenberg into the elite strata of the burgeoning light-heavyweight mix & potentially opens up a plethora of sell-able match-ups down the line.

The light-heavyweight scene shows signs of having the potential to elevate itself from the sport’s current malaise. The current Top 10 light heavyweights present perhaps the most compelling competitive space in the sport with quality in depth bettered perhaps only by the welterweight, junior welterweight & super middleweight divisions:

  1. Adonis Stevenson 24-1
  2. Bernard Hopkins 55-6-2
  3. Sergey Kovalev 25-0-1
  4. Jean Pascal 29-2-1
  5. Juergen Braehmer 44-2
  6. Isaac Chilemba 23-2-2
  7. Andrzej Fonfara 25-3
  8. Lucian Bute 31-2
  9. Beibut Shumenov 14-2
  10. Tavoris Cloud 24-2

And whilst that rarest of modern boxing concepts of championship unification seems a step closer to fruition with the WBA, IBF & WBO straps on the line when Hopkins meets Kovalev on 8 November it remains to be seen whether boxing’s faltering functionality can lead to a true undisputed champion with the winner facing Adonis Stevenson.

Bernard Hopkins vs. Alexander Povetkin? Apparently, Maybe!

Bernard Hopkins vs. Alexander Povetkin? Apparently it is plausible.

“Hopkins versus Povetkin for the heavyweight championship of the world would be huge. USA versus Russia is always special. It would be like out of a Rocky film. However, Klitschko is currently our only focus for Povetkin, but in boxing, one never knows what can happen,” commented Sauerland.

“I think this is definitely going to be a name we discuss,” remarked Schaefer.

Beating Alexander Povetkin for Bernard Hopkins would be a similar achievement that Roy Jones Jr. was praised for when he crossed the ropes and won his heavyweight debut against John Ruiz.

I think that it would be one of the biggest achievements in his entire career, and Hopkins could easily say that he retired on top if able to accomplish a goal like that. The fight would definitely generate a mind blowing amount of PPV buys, and I am sure that the boxing fans would appreciate Hopkins taking on a challenge like this close to the end of his career.

But could Hopkins actually come out a winner against a young unbeaten heavyweight champion? Andre Ward thinks so.

“I think it is totally doable. I actually think that is a great payday and a great way for Bernard to go out, and it would be something that would motivate him. I never thought about that matchup, but that would be good. I like it!” stated Andre Ward.

Truth be told, I am not so sure that Hopkins is as sharp as he has himself believe. Beating Cloud is one thing, but going against a heavyweight powerhouse might plaster him on the canvas a lot quicker than he or anyone else expects. Povetkin is an unbeaten guy with a good number of knockouts over real heavyweight, and Hopkinsis simply not one.

I think that he should take the challenge if the opportunity arises, but should fight an entirely different fight than he is used to. Staying on the outside, way outside is the only way I see him make it through the fight and possibly taking it on points. Still, if I were a betting man, my money would be on Povetkin.


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B-Hop Thinks Mayweather Jr. vs. Pacquiao Is A Waste Of Time

Some time ago, Bernard Hopkins talked about what the devastating knockout that Marquez had delivered to Pacquiao could do to the Filipino champion.

In a recent interview with ESPN,Hopkins once again described the challenges that such a loss presents:

“That type of knockout…that was 10 fights for Pacquiao. The way Pacquiao got hit – he jumped into the punch trying to his Marquez – he was knocked out before he hit the canvas. It takes a lot out of a fighter when you get hit that way. I’ll be surprised if eh fights more than one more time, and it will probably be with Marquez – and that’s the only fight that I can say that he should fight,” stated B-Hop.

This is a hard point to argue either way. There have been too many boxing champions that have gotten knocked out and came back to successfully continue their boxing careers. On the other hand, the physiological damage that a punch like that could cause is also a very real issue. One punch too many is a devastating outcome.

Saying that Manny should retire at this point in time, is in my opinion a bit premature. One loss via a knockout is not an indication to an end, and never has been. Besides, Manny was doing great before he made the mistake that caused him the fight.

As far as the possibility of Pacquiao vs. Mayweather Jr., Hopkins was unenthusiastic, stating that the fight has lost all of its appeal after Pacquiao’s loss:

“Who cares now? It would be easy pickings for Floyd Mayweather. I picked Floyd Mayweather to win before the knockout. Now if they fought – which I don’t see happening – Floyd Mayweather would make it even easier than I predicted the first time. Pacquiao jumped trying to throw a left hand and paid the ultimate price. You never throw a punch and leave your feet. He’s not Superman,” saidHopkins.

I have always believed that Mayweather Jr. would beat Pacquiao had they ever fought. I have been criticized plenty for my belief that Mayweather Jr. would have a really easy time, and would win in a dominant fashion.

Having said that, I strongly disagree with Hopkins on the idea that Manny’s loss to Marquez will change his persona or performance. I don’t expect to see a different Pacquiao next time he fights, and as a matter of fact, I would not be surprised if Manny came out more aggressive and more determined to outclass his opponents in the most destructive fashion.

There are those who dwell on their mistakes, and those that learn and treasure them. Manny will not be offset by his mistake, and I highly doubt that he spends much time at all thinking about it and wishing he could go back in time. I think he is a mentally strong man, and should be able to get over it faster than most others.


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Bernard Hopkins Vs. Tavoris Cloud In 2013

For Bernard Hopkins, boxing has not been kind as of lately. In his last 4 fights, a draw, one victory, one no contest and one defeat have been added to his resume.

Hopkinsis a very peculiar fighter to watch: he is boring yet absolutely stunning with his technical ability and ring IQ. He is one of those fighters that you can never count out no matter what, and it’s hard to imagine Bernard being an obvious underdog. We have all seen Hopkins impress the boxing public over and over, but as of lately, he has been on a down spiral as far as his results are concerned.

Of course getting back to the top is not impossible, and for Hopkins, it might take less time than most would anticipate.

According to RingTV, his next opponent is going to be Tavoris Cloud (24-0-0), and unbeaten light heavyweight with a 79% knockout rate.

“Assuming the IBF will grant permission and will sanction the fight for the IBF world title, it would be Bernard Hopkins versus Tavoris Cloud,” said Richard Schaefer.

A dominating performance against a much younger Cloud would no doubt bump Hopkins’s stock in the boxing community, and would likely pave the path for a bigger purse bout. Technically, there is a lot more to gain for Hopkins than for Cloud in this fight. For Cloud, beating Hopkins would be beating an old past-his-prime former champion. But for Bernard, a victory over and unbeaten younger fighter would be an achievement in most critics’ eyes.

Where could this potentially lead? I don’t know, but looking past Cloud, something as crazy as Andre Ward seems feasible.


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Bernard Hopkins On Pacquiao: “I Don’t Think He Will Ever Be The Pacquiao That He Was”

In a recent interview with Jim Rome of Showtime, Bernard Hopkins touched on the topic of Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV, and what the knockout could mean for Manny’s future.

“That’s the type of punch that takes more than one fight out of you. It takes a couple of fights out of you. It’s one of those types of knockouts that you can recover from in life, but I don’t think you can recover fully in the sport. That was a devastating knockout that has a long-term effect. I know when you see a guy get knocked out and hit in that way, they are considered damaged goods and they live up to that title,” said Hopkins.

Is Pacquiao damaged goods? Only time will tell. Personally, I think that it depends on the psychological health of the person in question. Pacquiao seems to be very calm, down-to-earth person, thus I don’t see him being completely devastated for a long time after his loss.

On the other hand there are plenty of examples where a fighter never looked the same after a knockout, but I could also name a few that did come back to become better and more successful fighters.

Hopkinsis of course a well respected and certainly seasoned champion, but because he has never been knocked out, his opinion is only observational, and limited at that. Pacquiao has nothing to prove at this point in his career, and even losing a fight doesn’t belittle his career achievements in boxing.

“I would advise him to grab his wife and kids and take a long vacation. Take a long year off. Regroup physically, mentally, spiritually and then you make the decision there. Truthfully, it was such a devastating knockout that I don’t think he will ever be the Pacquiao that he was,” concluded Hopkins.

When it comes to advising Pacquiao to take a long vacation, I would agree. I think Manny needs to take some time to himself and spend it with family and friends. Maybe take a trip somewhere, and simply forget politics and boxing, enjoying the simpler things in life.

As far as taking an entire year off, this I don’t think would be the best decision. I can see Manyy staying away until next summer, or possibly early fall, but taking too long of a hiatus could be a damaging thing to do. Manny is not only great at boxing, but he is also in love with the sport. Not fighting is not an option for him, and as Freddie Roach had advised, he shouldn’t fight in April or May, but stay away for a bit longer.

When Bernard stated that he doesn’t believe that we will ever see the same Pacquiao as he was before, he is not taking into consideration that Pacquiao is not your average fighter. His dedication and self esteem is all that will be required for him to bounce back. Physically he is still as good as he ever was, and with a good fight to come back to, I think Roach and Manny will impress.

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