Tavoris Cloud, (24-1, 19 KOs), 31, came into this past Saturday night’s fight being the stronger, younger, harder hitting, faster fighter. However, after 36 minutes of fighting, Tavoris Cloud found himself no longer undefeated, and no longer the IBF light heavyweight champion of the world. None of his predisposed advantages would blunt Hopkins’ own. Not nearly consistently enough anyways. Cloud showed a good chin, some good toughness, and if he can fine tune his technique, he can still be a force in the future.
For the most part though, Cloud found himself whiffing on several shots, and hitting air more than hitting Hopkins. Hopkins’ key to putting on yet another great performance in the spotlight, with odds and age against him, was as usual, his focus, incredible craft and technique, and sky high ring IQ. Particularly since Hopkins had turned 40 years old, in 2005. At that point, Hopkins was forced to rely, and even improve on some (not all) of his abilities once he turned 40 due to his physical gifts beginning to slip.
But make no mistake about it, Bernard Hopkins still has some good physical gifts. He hasn’t slipped in the way many would believe he would have in the 8 years since turning 40, and his defense is still one of the elite defenses in all of boxing. After Hopkins lost to light heavyweight champion, Chad Dawson, this past year, it looked as if Hopkins was going to hang them up within a year or so. However, after Hopkins so clearly defeated a young bull in Cloud, the door now opens to see if Hopkins can still be matched with some real top flight champions. Is it ludicrous to think that Hopkins can defeat the elite fighters in boxing less than two years from turning 50? Yeah, probably. But it was a ludicrous notion that Bernard Hopkins would go on to become a two-time light heavyweight champion of the world past the age of 40.
Bernard Hopkins has his detractors about his style, but the fans in Brooklyn were chanting “B Hop, B Hop, B Hop!” And to this publications’ point of view, Hopkins is a marvel to watch at this stage in his career, and has been for much of his career. Hopkins once again showed that he is a throwback, and a fighter’s fighter. Bernard Hopkins, of course, could retire and go down as one of the greatest fighters of all time. However, Hopkins has always been greedy in a admirable way: greedy for legacy. So don’t hold your breath on Hopkins concluding with that decision.
The most logical fight for Hopkins, should he continue onward, would be a third fight with the current light heavyweight champion of the world who bested him in 2012, Chad Dawson. Andre Ward has been compared to Bernard Hopkins stylistically for quite some time now. With that in mind, Hopkins may be able to break down the game plan Ward implemented against Dawson, and use some of the exploits Ward discovered in a third bout with Dawson.
Hopkins may still be 15 plus years older than Dawson, but Dawson just suffered the most brutal defeat of his career at the hands of Andre Ward. In what was a hellacious 10 round beating. The type of beating that some fighters may never mentally, or even physically recover from. Hopkins has never suffered anything remotely close to what Dawson had to experience. With those factors in mind, Hopkins may stand a better chance at beating Dawson this year than he was able to in 2012.
It must bring a smile to some faces when Hopkins pulls off these marvels in the ring. For so long his legacy has been cemented as a great fighter. So sometimes, it’s hard to find the words to truly give him all his due after each performance. One thing that can be said is that Hopkins was also a shining example of what boxing is at times, all about. The style in which he beat Cloud showed that mental superiority coupled with superior skills can overcome athleticism and vast physical advantages in this sport.
Bernard Hopkins is special, he’s not just a great fighter, he’s an all time great fighter. A kind of pugilist you won’t truly see the likes of for quite some time. And at this point, he has nothing to lose, and nothing to prove. So all the boxing world can do is see if, and how much more can Hopkins add to this historic, anomaly of a run.