Steve Bunce on Boxing: Bernard Hopkins' latest move out-Hollywoods Rocky v La Motta

On paper the fight is only slightly less ridiculous than De Niro v Stallone

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The Independent Online

There is a new film starring two of Hollywood's most famous fighters called Grudge Match coming out this year and in this latest celluloid fistic caper Robert De Niro, aka Jake La Motta, fights Sylvester Stallone, aka Rocky Balboa, for revenge 30 years after their last fight.

Both have Oscars, both have deep scars from their sacrifices inside the boxing ring in pursuit of acting glory and both, it would appear, have a grudge to settle; it all sounds perfectly and brilliantly Hollywood and the trailer has its moments.

In 1980's Raging Bull De Niro portrayed the brilliant and often psychotic world champion Jake La Motta so perfectly that the real Jake, a man whose company you never forget, became a little concerned when De Niro allegedly took his legendary research a bit far with one of the fighter's six wives.

Stallone has built a career on playing the Philadelphia fighting legend Rocky, a man he first created from his days as a bum loser and then took through to his days as a brain-damaged millionaire, struggling with the death of his baby turtles and Mickey his cornerman. What else could these two do but fight?

In theory the return to the ring of Sly could get him into trouble with the Boxing Hall of Fame, which convenes each summer in Canastota, New York, to induct the living and the dead from boxing's finest nights in a surprisingly joyless few days of solemn recognition. However, to prove that the men behind the Hall have a sense of humour they included Sylvester Stallone a couple of years ago, which is funny until you look at the men they reject every 12 months. Stallone, or his alter-ego Rocky Balboa, is meant to stay retired and not end his exile to fight 70-year-old De Niro.

Away from Hollywood an equally bizarre fight is moving closer and closer to becoming reality and I can't help thinking that it has probably done the rounds a bit like the original script for Grudge Match. In one corner is boxing's youthful, unbeaten and insanely rich Floyd Mayweather and in the other corner is the old man, felon and self-confessed alien Bernard Hopkins.

Mayweather has not lost in 45 fights and competes with majesty in a weight division two stone below the one that Hopkins, at 48 years of age, is still dominating in style. Hopkins has offered to drop weight to make the fight happen; it's a fight that on paper is only slightly less ridiculous than De Niro v Stallone.

However, Richard Schaefer, the boss at Golden Boy, the company that promotes both Hopkins and Mayweather, has broken his silence and when the Swiss-born, multimillionaire philatelist talks, people listen: "I have a plan. The number 50 is out there; Bernard is approaching 50 and Floyd is getting close to 50 fights without a loss. We all know that Rocky Marciano retired undefeated after 49 fights. Floyd can go to 50 and this is a fight that gets my promotional juices going." Hopkins has promised to lose a stone and Mayweather has not yet ruled out gaining a few pounds.

On Saturday night in Atlantic City Hopkins, who turns 49 in January, retained his IBF light-heavyweight title in a slugfest against Karo Murat, who was 18 years younger. It was world title fight No 32 for Hopkins and he entered the ring wearing a full-face green alien mask; he left with a big smile knowing that he was closer to Mayweather and a fight that Hollywood's boxing writers would love to have invented.