Murat visa denial wipes out fight with Hopkins

Bernard Hopkins, the oldest boxer to win a major world title, will not defend his light-heavyweight crown in July against Karo Murat because the German has been denied a US visa, promoters said Friday.

Hopkins, who took the International Boxing Federation title at age 48 last March with a victory over Tavoris Cloud to break his own age mark by nearly two years, was to have faced mandatory challenger Murat on July 13 in Brooklyn.

But Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer said the US State Department had declared Murat ineligible to receive a US entry visa and thus cannot fight in New York, so the entire fight card has been cancelled.

"This is an extremely disappointing development as we were anticipating Bernard making history once again," Sachefer said.

"Since the administrative process that would have to be undertaken in order for Murat's visa petition to be reconsidered takes longer than six months, we're exploring several options with respect to Bernard's next fight."

Hopkins, 53-6 with two drawn and 32 knockouts, had to face Murat or forfeit the title under terms of a deal that allowed him to step in front of Murat to challenge Cloud, but whether that remains in force in the wake of Murat's inability to fight at a US venue was uncertain.

"I'm extremely disappointed about the fight being cancelled," Hopkins said. "I was already in the gym, sparring and preparing for the fight. But things happen. I stay in shape so being ready is never a problem and I look forward to whatever fight is made for me in the near future."

Murat, a 29-year-old of Armenian heritage, is 25-1-1 with 15 knockouts. He said he was looking forward to pushing Hopkins into retirement.

"Obviously I'm very disappointed as I have been in training for almost three months now," Murat said in a statement from his training camp in Spain, adding that his promoter was in talks with Schaefer regarding possible alternatives.

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