Nicola Hopewell Impresses Again
This past Saturday was one of those special nights for fight fans. 20,000 vocal and passionate fans headed to a rugby stadium in Leeds to watch the likes of Josh Warrington, Katie Taylor and other members of the Matchroom powerhouse. It was a night of high emotion that sadly ended in an anticlimactic fashion when Warrington was denied his redemption by an accidental headbutt. The premature conclusion sucked all the atmosphere out of the stadium in a matter of seconds. It went from deafening to eerie remarkably quickly.
Further afield on a Liverpool heavy UFC card in Las Vegas, Paddy Pimblett announced himself as a potential new star in the world of mixed martial arts. A night that was scripted to end the way it did.
But the action didn’t end there, BIBA put on their latest show in Brighton, and Worksop’s Nicola Hopewell advanced her winning record to 5-0. The trip to the seaside was a fruitful one. Hopewell claimed the WBL European super-flyweight title with a points victory over 8 rounds over Belfast’s Cara MacLochlainn.
After 4 stoppage wins in her first 4 fights, Hopewell was taken the distance for the first time in her professional career. MacLochlainn lost any real ambition to win the fight after the opening few rounds, and her constant holding made it a frustrating experience for the Worksop hopeful.
Despite the obvious frustration, Hopewell showed patience and her obvious class, the clean quality shots came from her gloves. The stoppage streak may have ended, but the rounds in the bank will serve her well. Not every fighter will willingly oblige or engage, a valuable learning experience for a fighter who looks set for bigger things.
Hopewell has declared recently that she is staying with BIBA, at least for the immediate future. But I wonder if the temptation to fight elsewhere in the boxing world will be too much of a temptation in the coming months.
Without the mainstream coverage from the major boxing outlets, certainly on a regular basis, her career could end in relative obscurity, which would be a shame. A tragedy even. As I said in a previous article, her talents deserve a bigger stage. With each passing fight, that becomes more and more obvious.
The night was long in Brighton, a 9 fight card, Hopewell was on 8th and came out for her fight close to midnight. What crowd was there had largely dispersed, leaving a practically empty hall, and had the look of a behind closed doors show. From the viewing on the YouTube feed, there seemed little or no atmosphere, and you couldn’t fail to have sympathy for the two fighters. It wasn’t a good look.
Hopewell does get a hometown show for her next outing in October which should have a completely different feel to it. A full house is the least she deserves.
At 30, Hopewell is at or near her peak, and could quite easily compete across the great boxing divide. The great debate about where her talents best lie, won’t go away anytime soon.
Hopewell has a more than decent amateur career behind her and has impressed in her 5 fights under the BIBA banner, lesser fighters are competing on much bigger platforms. In my opinion, Hopewell should be on those stages with them.
BIBA deserve credit for putting regular shows on and getting their fighters out, especially in these testing times. They should be applauded for that. But there is a perception about their product that will be hard to remove. They are still a work in progress and need time to develop further. They should be given that time. There is no poison from this pen aimed at BIBA or those close to Hopewell who have done an excellent job in getting the unbeaten prospect to where she is right now.
But the question is, has Hopewell outgrown BIBA already, and does she have time to waste. In many ways, her time is now. This isn’t about what is best for BIBA, or anyone else for that matter, it is what is best for Nicola Hopewell.