Boxing: Perfect execution can clinch it for eccentric Eastman

His bearded jowels and greying locks make him look more like Methuselah than a merchant of menace, but at 34 Howard Eastman is still a bit of a babe in days when life begins at 40 for some of boxing's senior pros.

His bearded jowels and greying locks make him look more like Methuselah than a merchant of menace, but at 34 Howard Eastman is still a bit of a babe in days when life begins at 40 for some of boxing's senior pros. Bernard Hopkins, whom the Guyana-born Londoner challenges for the world middleweight title in Los Angeles on Saturday, passed that milestone a month ago but is among those seasoned sluggers who believe age is in the mind, not the legs.

The American is considered the supreme pound-for-pound fighter in the world, but Eastman has taken more than heart and hope with him to his training camp in Miami. He packed a video showing how another Brit, Lloyd Honeyghan, ventured into the backyard of another champion they said at the time was the best on the planet, the welterweight Don Curry.

Nineteen years ago Honeyghan registered a seismic shock by dethroning the seemingly invincible Curry in what is still considered the greatest achievement by a British fighter on US soil. Eastman goes to Staples Centre, in Los Angeles, similarly unfancied but with the determination to do the same to Hopkins.

He may have the will, but has he the way to overcome the first undisputed middleweight champion since Marvin Hagler? However, while Hopkins is boxing's man of letters (WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO), he has elected to put only one of his four titles on the line. Significantly for Eastman it is the most authentic, the World Boxing Council championship.

As a teenage hoodlum in Philadelphia, Hopkins was sentenced to 18 years in jail for armed robbery (he served five) but survived a violent past which has translated into chillingly destructive ring performances. These have earned him the sobriquet of The Executioner.

Among the top names he has dispatched are Oscar de la Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Glencoffe Johnson, Antwun Echols and William Joppy, who inflicted Eastman's only defeat in 41 bouts three years ago. Of Hopkins's own two defeats the first came on his debut in a four-rounder and the second by Roy Jones Jnr 12 years ago. This will be his 23rd world title fight.

Eastman, who was a wild child himself, sleeping rough behind rubbish bins before the Army and boxing sorted him out, has an air of engaging eccentricity which we haven't seen since Chris Eubank. For years his best friend was a parrot called Tyson.

The European champion has had more managers than most fighters have had gumshields. One of them, Frank Maloney, described him as boxing's best-kept secret. Eastman says from his Miami training camp: "I am not really looking for recognition from this fight, it is more about accomplishment. The fact that I have not received as much acclaim as higher-profile boxers for my achievements does not bother me. I just tune in for the moment. When I beat Hopkins, I will be more than happy to give him a rematch and then he can put up all the belts he wants.

"In terms of talent, I have yet to be stretched. I am going to win this fight, possibly by knockout by the fifth round. His skills don't impress me. I don't regard him as anything special."

His promoter, Mick Hennessy, adds : "This isn't like so many fights in America where all the Brit does is turn up. Howard is there to rip the title from the world's best. He has no fear of Hopkins, why should he? Howard has dominated Europe for the last four years. Against Joppy, he started too slowly.

"This time he'll tear out and put it straight on Hopkins. This could be an historic night for British boxing." Perhaps. This is a difficult, just about winnable fight for Eastman if he gets himself together and Hopkins starts feeling his age.

So it is a pity that the BBC are restricting their coverage to a delayed showing on Sunday Grandstand, with the live pay-per view on the relatively obscure Setanta Sport channel via Sky Channel 435. Eastman deserves better, especially if he can give Hopkins a taste of Honey.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Relations Officer

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: IT Help Desk Support

£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Help Desk Support individ...

Recruitment Genius: Interim HR Advisor

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are going through an excitin...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£37500 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Quantity Surveyor r...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable