Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 48, is not only one of the greatest fighters of his generation; but of all time. His credentials are noted as obvious to fight fans everywhere, but it’d be rubbish to brush them aside. We must look over them since they are such incredible achievements. Hopkins was the world’s middleweight champion for a decade.
From 1995-2005, beginning with a 7th round stoppage of Segundo Mercado in 1995 to capture the IBF Middleweight Championship of the World. Hopkins went on to defeat rugged challengers in dominant title defenses. One of which was against former undisputed light Heavyweight champion, Glen Johnson. Despite his dominance, Hopkins was denied the opportunity to shine his talents and craft to the masses. But then, a middleweight unification plotted by Don King designed to make undefeated, junior middleweight champion, Felix “Tito” Trinidad, the world’s middleweight champion.
Alas, Hopkins was given his chance. What happened by late 2001,Hopkins put on one of the most complete, beautifully fought, masterpieces of a fight against Trinidad. Dominating him through eleven rounds and then in the 12th, knocking him out to put the cherry on top of his magnum opus. This was during a emotional night in Madison Square Garden, weeks following the tragedies of 9/11. Hopkins, the American underdog, and ex-convict, at age 36, had knocked out Trinidad. It was the Philadelphian’s finest hour. He was far from over at that point, he then set the record for title defenses of the middleweight crown at 20 defenses. Surpassing Carlos Monzon, the great Argentine middleweight champion.
In 2004, Hopkins’ 19th defense came at the expense of another all time great fighter, Oscar De La Hoya. After De La Hoya was competiive early on, Hopkins turned up the pressure and De La Hoya would be nailed to the right side of the stomach by a Hopkins left hook to end his bid at Hopkins’ middleweight championship. After two controversially, and by some still disputed, losses to Jermain Taylor in 2005 to end his reign atop the division he had reigned supreme for in 10 years.
Hopkins refused retirement and into his 40s continued to fight on. Seven months following the disputed losses to Taylor, Hopkins signed up to challenge the light heavyweight champion of the world, Antonio Tarver. Tarver was younger, bigger, and coming off of more momentum than Hopkins, who was moving up fifteen pounds in weight. After being placed a 3 and a half to one under dog to Tarver, Hopkins arguably won every round. And at times, even played with the dismayed Tarver. It was another special night for a special fighter.
Hopkins would now go down as the man to have defended the middleweight championship more than any other fighter in history, and the world’s light heavyweight champion. At that point, Hopkins had been a sure fire hall of famer for five years, and many wondered when the hour glass would strike Hopkins down. To this day however, it truly hasn’t happened.
Although Hopkins is coming off of a loss to light heavyweight champion, Chad Dawson. In that bout, Hopkins went all 12, and secured some rounds himself. Showing the boxing public, that even though he wasn’t the same fighter he once was, he wasn’t shot either. The question remaining, however, is that in this fight coming up March 9th, in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, will we see the night that Bernard Hopkins absolutely falls from grace like so many great champions before him?
Hopkins has accomplished so much, including a yet to be noted accomplishment of being the oldest world champion in the history of the sport at the age of 46, by beating a man in his 20s, former light heavyweight world champion, Jean Pascal in 2011. So then another question arises: Why continue? By all accounts Hopkins is secure financially, hasn’t suffered any traumatic brain injury to make him delusional to go onward (note, as previously said, this publication doesn’t believe he’s shown to be an over the hill fighter yet.) And the man has accomplished everything a fighter could ever dream of.
Well I guess Hopkins has always been greedy. In a way you love fighters to be, greedy to gain more and more accomplishments. Hopkins may sometimes think to himself, “Sure, I’ve done more than enough to prove myself, but I think I can tack on just a little more.” Like a business man with millions in the bank, but still hungering for that next big money grub. So at this point you look at the risks and rewards.
First of all, if anything, Hopkins should fight Chad Dawson once more. Reasons being: If Hopkins were to lose to Dawson, it would be a name on his dossier that already shows a defeat next to it, and Dawson is still considered the divisions’ true champion. Thus, a lower risk and a higher reward.
Make no mistake, Tavoris Cloud, the IBF world light heavyweight champion that Hopkins is attempting to upend, would indeed be another nice notch in Hopkins’ belt. It’d also possibly make Hopkins’ career come full circle in a sense. He won his first world championship, the IBF portion of the middleweight championship, and if he can be successful against the odds again, he may indeed retire with the IBF portion of the light heavyweight championship of the world.
Cloud, like so many Hopkins victims in years past, is more than a decade, and in fact nearly 20 years younger than Hopkins. And he’s a strong, fresh, hungry fighter who has some explosiveness. Explosiveness that could spell disaster for Hopkins if father time catches up with the ole’ Philly great. So it’s not just an attempt to top himself by Hopkins, in capturing a world title (albeit not the universally recognized portion) at the oldest age the sport has seen. He can really add another solid victory to his name. Those are the rewards.
The risks, well as mentioned before Hopkins has never been swept, let alone KO’d. And in Hopkins’ prime it would be damn near impossible for just about any middleweight in history to stop Hopkins. So to end in a similar fashion to that of say, Erik Morales, has succumbed to would be very disheartening to see. Also, Cloud would be another name on the record of Hopkins that sports a L next to it for himself, and it’d be unececssary is the point of it all.
But nobody tells Bernard Hopkins what to do, he’s been told by experts within the sport he’s going to taste the canvas on more than one ocassion, and more often than not he gets the final laugh. It’ll be a historic night when March 9th arrives. In the second ever major boxing event held at downtown Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. And will all see if we witness “The death of a king” as Larry Merchant put it when Roy Jones was KO’d by Glen Johnson. Or if Hopkins’ notorious defiance and incredible craftsmenship can beat the odds, and his birth certificate, once more.