Boxing: Eastman bullish as Hopkins throws all four titles on line

Howard Eastman will leave Los Angeles tomorrow morning with nearly $1m [£530,000] as recompense for tonight's fight against Bernard Hopkins.

The 34-year-old Eastman has come a very long way since his days as a vagrant on the streets of south London and the frustrating years as the best but untested middleweight in Britain. It is not quite a fairytale because that requires a happy ending - and that is, sadly, unlikely against Hopkins.

The pair will meet at the Staples Center to fight for the undisputed middleweight title, despite the American originally deciding that for cash reasons he would only risk the World Boxing Council belt. At the last minute, the International Boxing Federation, the World Boxing Association and the World Boxing Organisation all agreed to add their sanction to that of the WBC.

According to Eastman, whose eccentric life has narrowly failed to make him a character, the belts and the title and the money are not what matters. He insists it is all about proving that he is the best middleweight in the world, which is a strange and rather alarming attitude for an honest boxer to take.

Hopkins, on the other hand, is one of the sport's most mercenary figures, having devoted himself to making as much money and surrendering as little of himself as possible during a career that has been bizarrely neglected by most of the sport's media.

Hopkins is now 40 - this will be his 20th defence in the 10th year of his reign but the truth is that so many of his defences have just come and gone without raising either his profile or having much of an impact on his bank account. Some call him awkward, some use stronger language but Hopkins likes to insist that he is just independent.

During his 10 years as champion Hopkins has never refused a fight and on two occasions he made the type of decision that few boxers in the modern and often pathetic business of boxing make. When he met Felix Trinidad in 2001 and Oscar De La Hoya last year he took a small percentage of the purse because he knew that he would win and acquire a degree of respectability by claiming the better known and better paid scalps of his two opponents.

"I'm in the Bernard Hopkins business and that is what has upset so many promoters for so long,'' said Hopkins. Tonight's fight is promoted by his old opponent and current business partner De La Hoya.

Eastman enters the ring having lost only once in 41 fights and with a reputation for meticulous planning but unfortunately an equally justified reputation for falling asleep on the job. In November 2001 he came within a whisker of beating the American William Joppy for the vacant World Boxing Association title in Las Vegas but he had a slow start and when he did increase the pace it was simply not enough.

He has admitted that he made mistakes that night and has promised to put right the wrongs of that fight once he steps in the ring against Hopkins. He has also, perhaps foolishly, claimed that he will knock out Hopkins in five rounds which is both bold and a bit stupid.

"I get my information from God and I'm just telling you what God told me," he said. "Number five is in my head and so that number five is the round in which I am going to take him out."

Hopkins, though, is the best fighter in the world at the moment, even at such a ripe old age, and tonight he will be given a test. However, Eastman needs to be pushed and Hopkins is adept at doing just enough and winning potentially exciting fights by boxing to a plan and sticking with the schedule.

Eastman will get on that plane tomorrow morning with the cash - but the mood of the moment is that it is very unlikely that he will be carrying four shining belts in his baggage.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried