Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hopson Faces Colombian for Ibf Jr.-Lightweight Title

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hopson Faces Colombian for Ibf Jr.-Lightweight Title

Article excerpt

In the history of clenched fists, only seven St. Louisans have won major pro boxing championships.

To which Eddie Hopson says, "Let's make the list a little longer."

It may stretch some on Saturday afternoon in Atlantic City.

Hopson, the self-styled "Boy Wonder," fights Moises Pedroza of Colombia for the vacant International Boxing Federation's junior-lightweight title. The fight is at Bally's Park Place casino and will not be televised in the United States.

Hopson, 23, is 25-0 and ranked No. 2 by the IBF.

Pedroza, 25, is 14-0. He last fought in August 1993 and never has fought in this country.

Yet, in one of those happy circumstances that make pro boxing such a pristine wonder, the IBF bestowed its No.1 ranking on the South American.

The IBF's 130-pound title was vacated by John-John Molina, a Hopson stablemate who moved up to lightweight to fight Oscar De La Hoya.

The St. Louis champions are Henry Armstrong, Virgil Akins, Archie Moore, Sonny Liston, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks and, lastly, Eddie Cook.

Cook, 27, won the World Boxing Association bantamweight title on March 15, 1992. The 118-pounder then lost his belt in his first defense.

"I'm ready to put my name up beside them," Hopson said as he broke camp this week in San Antonio. "I want the people in St. Louis to know I'm coming home as the champion. But let me take care of Saturday first. That's my whole mission. Saturday, Saturday, Saturday."

The Hopson camp - managers Lou Duva and Shelly Finkel and trainer Roger Bloodworth of Granite City - had little scoop and no film on Pedroza. "All we know about the other guy is that he comes to fight," Duva said. "You have to watch these Colombians. Either they're bad or they're gol-darned good."

Pedroza fits the latter category, unless he has rusted shut in the past 1 1/2 years. Duva spoke to a contact familiar with Pedroza who said, "Eddie's too fast for him, but if he hits Eddie, Eddie's in trouble."

The 5-foot-3 Hopson has only 12 knockouts in 25 fights. Pedroza has KO'd 13 of his 14 victims, although their pedigree is suspect.

"You can't hit nothing you can't see," Hopson said. "So I won't be there. I know he had to be doing something right, but it doesn't matter. …

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