Bernard Hopkins has dismissed the importance of the coming weeks to the ambitions of Golden Boy Promotions.

On Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Ryan Garcia – by some distance Golden Boy’s highest-profile fighter – will challenge Devin Haney, the WBC super lightweight champion.

He is the significant underdog against his long-term rival, and if, as expected, he loses – albeit against the highest caliber of opponents – he will have done so for the second time in three fights.

Two weeks later, Jaime Munguia, Golden Boy’s second-highest-profile fighter, will be the underdog when he challenges Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for the undisputed super middleweight title in Las Vegas. Munguia remains undefeated but, like Garcia, in the event of defeat he would be confronted with having to rebuild. 

In 2023, Vergil Ortiz Jr. – the third fighter of particular value to the organization that once represented the world’s most influential promoter – withdrew from his welterweight fight with Eimantas Stanionis when he was rushed to a hospital after struggling to make weight. The development came after he suffered a recurrence of rhabdomyolysis, a condition that can damage the heart and kidneys and cause permanent disability or even death, and was diagnosed in him as a symptom of long COVID, putting his future as a fighter at risk, regardless of his victory over Fredrick Lawson in January.

It is therefore far from unthinkable that Golden Boy will struggle to build on the status of those who represent their three leading fighters – and at a time when they are delivering what are certain to be two of 2024’s biggest fights.

The departure of Alvarez from Golden Boy undermined the promoter’s influence, as did the conclusion of HBO Boxing, the broadcaster for which the organization so consistently delivered. Matchroom remains the leading promoter on DAZN, Golden Boy’s broadcast partner in 2024, but Hopkins – who as an active fighter was involved in big fights for the promoter at a time when super-fights such as Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Mayweather-Ricky Hatton gave them near-unrivalled power – insists he is unconcerned.

“You also have Vergil Oritz,” Hopkins responded when reminded of the positions Garcia and Munguia find themselves in. “You have ‘Kid Austin’ [Floyd Schofield]. We have a house filled with talent, from the top contenders, and the ones that’s going to be top contenders. 

“And you gotta understand the long game. The long game is not tomorrow. The long game is not next month. The long game is, in time, we will have champions in damn near every division.

“[If Garcia and Munguia lose, we go] back to the drawing board. Back to the drawing board. The thing is this – it’s consistency. It’s not ‘One pony runs the show.’

“You have to understand that we earned the position. Ortiz. Munguia. Austin. Ryan Garcia. We earned the position to be in a big fight. The outcome has to do with the people in the ring, and hopefully not the judges. That’s all we can expect. We did our work, and now they have to do their work, and that’s the beautiful thing about boxing.

“Everybody that makes decisions outside of the ring, to come together to make something happen of this magnitude – Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney on DAZN – they did their job. Now that this fight has come to maturity and come to fruition, we can sit back. It’s up to those two guys to prove that everything they said prior to Saturday night – who’s going to be wrong and who’s going to be right.”

Matchroom announcing the signing of Jaron “Boots” Ennis, following his departure from Premier Boxing Champions – the uncertainty surrounding PBC is perhaps something Golden Boy would once have capitalized on more effectively – was a further reflection of the changing balance of power in the U.S.

“It makes me nervous if I’m not the underdog,” said Hopkins – whose finest victories, over Felix Trinidad and Kelly Pavlik, came when, like Garcia and Munguia, he was expected to lose. “You gotta understand – sometimes being the underdog can be the best thing that can happen to you, because you have to understand you have to earn it. It’s not going to be given.

“When you look at the state of boxing right now in the weight divisions, it’s very competitive. Anybody could be the underdog, and it’s people’s opinion. What makes a person the underdog? But you only an underdog if you believe you’re the underdog. You gotta go in there and fight, yes.

“There’s fighters where you can say, ‘He should beat him,’ ‘He shouldn’t beat him,’ and I’ll say, ‘I agree.’ But at the end of the day, you gotta let the fight take place. You have to really know.”

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