Punch drunk

VIEWERS and fans have once again been served up a supposed mega-bucks boxing delicacy, this time the middleweight contest between undisputed world champion, Bernard Hopkins, and Britain’s very own Howard Eastman. Howard who?

The pre-fight publicity machines were working overtime to create the hype to make this an encounter worth showing on American pay-per-view television. Eastman, from Battersea, has been seen smiling all last week in Los Angeles. His attitude was interpreted as confidence, the 34-year-old himself underlining that view with statements claiming that he, not WBC, IBF, WBA and WBO belt holder Hopkins, is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. This was Hopkins’ 20th title defence, having remained undefeated since 1993 – he has beaten both Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya and, although already 40, a man not to be trifled with. Eastman has been knocking over European opponents since losing out to William Joppy when last challenging for the world title. No comparison, no contest, really. Yet, Joe Public was taken in once again. Eastman predicted an early knock-out, Hopkins predicted ice packs for his opponent. Hopkins hardly broke into a sweat as he eased to a unanimous points victory, clinically outboxing and outclassing his hapless victim. Eastman was probably still trying to smile on the plane home at the thought of his healthy bank-balance, but honest punters are sick of these arranged farces.